23 June, 2013

State of emergency declared in Malaysia due to haze

Australia Network News - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
23 June 2013
Workers at a construction site labour away as thick haze covers the city of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Photo: AFP
Malaysia has declared a state of emergency in two parts of the southern state of Johor as smoke from land-clearing fires in Indonesia has pushed air pollution above the level considered hazardous.

The illegal burning of forests and other land on Indonesia's Sumatra island to clear space for palm oil plantations is a chronic problem during the June-September dry season.

The "haze" caused by fires on Sumatra has also shrouded neighbouring Singapore, but air quality in the city state has improved over the weekend after reaching hazardous levels.

Malaysia's minister for natural resources and environment, G. Palanivel, announced the state of emergency in a Facebook post.

"Prime Minister Najib Razak has agreed to declare emergency status in Muar and Ledang with immediate effect," he said.

Mr Palanivel's post said the air pollution index had exceeded 750.

Any reading above 300 indicates hazardous air pollution.

The Johor state operations centre says residents in the affected areas of Johor state, Muar and Ledang, have been advised to stay indoors.

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