'Unhealthy' air quality in most parts of Malaysia
HAZE levels have been rising steadily in Malaysia, with buildings more than a kilometre away in Kuala Lumpur appearing as vague silhouettes yesterday.
Air pollutant index (API) readings at 29 of Malaysia's 52 air-quality monitoring stations tipped into the "unhealthy" range yesterday - meaning they came between 100 and 200, reported Agence France-Presse.
The places affected were mainly in southern peninsular Malaysia as well as KL and Putrajaya, according to the Department of Environment's website.
The town of Banting in Selangor recorded the highest API at 171, reported The Star daily yesterday.
In Sarawak of East Malaysia, state capital Kuching hovered in and out of the unhealthy range yesterday.
Kuching officials said public areas, including recreational parks, could be closed if the haze goes above 201 on the API, reported The Star.
The Malaysian Meteorological Department said cloud seeding is expected to be carried out today over the Sarawak and Klang Valley centred in KL in an effort to ease the haze.
"However, this depends on the haze situation this afternoon, which may improve due to the changes in winds," said National Weather Centre senior meteorological officer Mohd Hisham Mohd Anip yesterday.
Environment Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar has also said the haze was expected to end with the inter-monsoon period starting in the middle of this month.
Meanwhile, Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said he had directed the Marine Department and Civil Aviation Department to issue warnings in view of the reduced visibility in some major cities and towns.
He said two commercial airlines had been diverted from their landing destinations due to the haze.
The Education Ministry announced that schools have to be closed if the API reading exceeds 200 in their areas, reported news website The Malaysian Insider.
The ministry said in a statement that schools have to cease all activities outside the classroom if the API rises above the 150 mark.