Haze from hundreds of Indonesian forest fires has reached Malaysia, shrouding some areas of the country and causing air quality to drop.
(Bloomberg) — Haze from hundreds of Indonesian forest fires has reached Malaysia, shrouding some areas of the country and causing air quality to drop.
Transboundary haze triggered by fires in southern Sumatra and Kalimantan is increasing air pollution on the west coast of Malaysia and in western Sarawak on Borneo island, according to Malaysia’s Department of Environment.
Smoke from fires is a recurring problem in Southeast Asia, disrupting tourism and costing local economies billions of dollars. It usually originates from natural or man-made fires in Indonesia and Malaysia, such as when conditions are dry and lands are cleared for plantation crops.
Forecasters are predicting the return of El Nino in coming months, bringing drier weather to Southeast Asia and more favorable conditions for fires.
Twelve areas in Peninsular Malaysia recorded unhealthy Air Pollutant Index levels above 100 as of 8 p.m. local time, with the highest of 155 registered in an area of Kuala Lumpur, the department’s Director General Wan Abdul Latiff Wan Jaffar said in a statement late Friday.
Satellite imagery from the Singapore-based ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre on Friday detected 52 hotspots in Sumatra, 264 in Kalimantan and none in Malaysia, Wan Abdul Latiff said.
Read More: Singapore Asks Public to Prepare Face Masks as Haze Threat Looms
Dry conditions are lingering in parts Sumatra and Kalimantan, Wan Abdul Latiff said. Hotspot clusters in southern Sumatra and Jambi continue to release moderate to thick smoke that’s blown toward the northwest, while hotspots in parts of Kalimantan are producing thick smoke, which can cause haze in Sarawak, he said. Rains in areas of Kalimantan may ease the situation.
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