Forest Fire Haze Blankets Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur. Haze caused by fires burning in Indonesia blanketed parts of Malaysia on Thursday, sending air pollution at its largest port up to unhealthy levels.

Skies over Kuala Lumpur were gloomy, and the Air Pollutant Index reached 104 in Port Klang, within the band of 101-200 considered unhealthy.

Elsewhere in central Selangor state, which surrounds the capital, 29 other areas had “moderate” readings and the remaining 21 areas were “good.”

When readings reach the 300-mark the air is considered “hazardous,” forcing school closures and wearing of protective masks.

An official with the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry said air quality had decreased since earlier this week because of a lack of rainfall and numerous fires on Indonesia’s Sumatra island.

“We conclude that this haze situation is caused by transboundary haze pollution from Sumatra,” said an official who requested anonymity.

She said authorities would increase patrols of peat swamp lands to prevent illegal burning.

Haze, mostly caused by fires in Indonesia, builds up during the dry season, affecting tourism and contributing to health problems across the region.

Indonesia’s government has outlawed land-clearing by fire but weak law enforcement means the ban is largely ignored.

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