Indonesian Haze Closes Schools, Sparks Fears For Singapore F1
Muhammad Irfan 26 days ago Wed 18th September 2019 | 03:50 PM
Toxic haze from Indonesian forest fires closed thousands of schools across the country and in neighbouring Malaysia Wednesday, while air quality worsened in Singapore just days before the city's Formula One motor race
Kuala Lumpur, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 18th Sep, 2019 ) :Toxic haze from Indonesian forest fires closed thousands of schools across the country and in neighbouring Malaysia Wednesday, while air quality worsened in Singapore just days before the city's Formula One motor race.
The Indonesian blazes are an annual problem, but this year's are the worst since 2015 and have added to concerns about wildfire outbreaks worldwide exacerbating global warming.
On Wednesday, air quality deteriorated to "very unhealthy" levels on an official index in many parts of peninsular Malaysia, to the east of Sumatra, with the Kuala Lumpur skyline shrouded by dense smog.
The two worst-affected states were Selangor, outside Kuala Lumpur, where 538 schools were closed, and Sarawak on Borneo, with 337 closures. Hundreds of schools in several other states in peninsular Malaysia were also affected.
A growing number of Malaysians were suffering health problems due to the haze, with authorities saying there had been a sharp increase in outpatients at government hospitals -- many suffering dry and itchy eyes.
Indonesian authorities said hundreds of schools in hard-hit Riau province on Sumatra were shut, without providing a precise number, while about 1,300 were closed in Central Kalimantan province on Borneo.
Poor visibility also caused the cancellation Tuesday of about 40 flights at three airports in Indonesian Borneo.
- Singapore smog race? - Air quality in Singapore worsened to unhealthy levels and a white smog obscured the striking waterfront skyline, featuring the Marina Bay Sands casino resort with its three towers and boat-shaped top level.
The worsening pollution increased fears that this weekend's Formula One race may be affected. Organisers say the possibility of haze is one of the issues in their contingency plan for Sunday's showpiece night race, but have not given further details.
"Various Singapore government agencies have been working closely with (the) race organiser... to ensure the delivery of the best race and entertainment experience possible while keeping a watchful eye on the health and well-being of everyone involved," she said.
The Indonesian government has insisted it is doing all it can to fight the fires, with President Joko Widodo saying during a visit to a hard-hit area on Sumatra on Tuesday that "we have made every effort".
Indonesia's meteorology, climate and geophysics agency said Wednesday that over 1,000 hotspots -- areas of intense heat detected by satellite that indicate a likely fire -- had been sighted, most of them on Sumatra.
The smog is also affecting endangered orangutans on Borneo, with dozens of the young apes at rescue centres contracting respiratory infections, according to the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation.