Malaysia’s skies darkened by forest fires


Malaysia warned of low visibility in the Straits of Malacca as the smoke haze from forest fires spread over parts of the country, reaching unhealthy levels in Melaka and southern Johor state, reported The Australian Financial Review (10/10/2006 p.12).

Shipping hazard alert: "Low visibility of less than five kilometres occurring over the Straits of Malacca and coastal waters of Sarawak due to haze is expected to continue till Thursday, October 12," the Meteorological Services Department said. "This situation is hazardous to ships without navigational equipment."

Health risk in six locations: The air pollutant index had reached "unhealthy" levels in six places in Malaysia, including Melaka town, a popular tourist destination on the west coast of the Malay peninsula, two towns on the east coast and three towns in southern Johor state, according to a statement from the Department of Environment.

Fires blamed on land clearing: Smoke from forest fires in Malaysia and Indonesia clouded the region annually during the dry season from around July to October as farmers clear land for cultivation by setting fire to trees and bushes. The worst haze occurred in 1997 and 1998, causing economic losses of almost $US9 billion in South-East Asia as travellers shunned the region and health-care costs increased.

KL airport visibility down to 500m: Visibility was reduced to as low as 500 metres yesterday morning in Sepang, where the Kuala Lumpur International Airport is located, south of the capital. Visibility later improved to two kilometres, according to the Meteorological Services Department.

The Australian Financial Review, 10/10/2006, p. 12

Source: Erisk Net  

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