KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 19 -- A total of 890 schools in Sarawak and another 250 in Perak were closed today following worsening haze situation in the country.
The closure involved 104 secondary schools and 705 primary schools in Sarawak affecting 252,237 students, while in Perak 88,028 students were affected with the closure of 37 schools under Larut Matang and Selama District Education Office (PPD), 71 schools (Kerian PPD), 38 schools (Kuala Kangsar PPD) and four schools under Hulu Perak PPD.
Apart from the school closure, the haze also forced the second round of the PGM MNRB ADT Golf Championship to be rescheduled to tomorrow as the Sarawak Golf Club in Kuching was hit by bad weather.
The second round was supposed to start at 7.30am, but was postponed to 1pm. However the organisers decided not to proceed with the game after the haze worsened as the Air Pollutant Index (API) reading hit 273.
Meanwhile, all flight departure and arrival at the Sultan Azlan Shah Airport (LTSAS) in Perak were cancelled due to the haze. The flights involved Air Asia’s Singapore-Ipoh-Johor Bahru route; Malindo’s Ipoh-Johor Bahru-Ipoh route and Singapore-Ipoh-Singapore route by FlyScoot, Singapore’s low cost airline.
Following the hazy situation, the government through the National Disaster Management Agency (NADMA) distributed about two million face masks to students in haze-affected areas, of which 500,000 were distributed in Sarawak while 1.5 million pieces were allotted to other affected states.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry (KPDNHEP) had fixed the maximum retail prices for five types of face masks and stern action would be taken against traders who hike up prices unreasonably.
Meanwhile the Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Ministry (MESTECC) is still waiting for the 'green light' from the Cabinet to draft the Transboundary Haze Act.
Minister Yeo Bee Yin said this morning's cloud seeding operation, which began at the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) base in Subang, was the third to be carried out due to presence of suitable cloud conditions today, adding that if cloud conditions were favorable, another cloud seeding operation would be implemented in Sarawak.
According to the Malaysian Air Pollution Index Management System (APIMS) portal, API readings in six affected areas in Sarawak have dropped as at 5pm today, but the air quality remained at very unhealthy level in Mukah (205), Samarahan (220), Sri Aman (210), Sarikei (238), Sibu (247) and Kuching (265).
According to the portal, only a few areas in Sarawak were experiencing very unhealthy air quality and other states which recorded unhealthy readings were Perak (Tasek Ipoh, Pegoh Ipoh); Federal Territories (Batu Muda, Cheras, Putrajaya); Selangor (Kuala Selangor, Petaling Jaya, Shah Alam, Klang, Banting); and Negeri Sembilan (Nilai, Seremban, Port Dickson).
Melaka (Alor Gajah, Bukit Rambai, Melaka City); Johor (Segamat, Batu Pahat, Kluang, Larkin, Tangkak); Terengganu (Kemaman, Kuala Terengganu, Paka); Penang (Seberang Jaya, Minden, Balik Pulau) and Kedah (Sungai Petani) also recorded unhealthy API readings.
An API between zero and 50 indicates good air quality; 51 and 100, moderate; 101 and 200, unhealthy; 201 and 300, very unhealthy and 300 and above, hazardous.
For the latest information on the haze and related matters, refer to the Bernama portal at www.bernama.com