The Star/Asia News Network
There is no respite for Malaysians from the haze, as many areas are recording polluted air levels or are at the brink of breaching the “unhealthy” mark.
This is despite forecast that the haze may lift soon. The geographical scope of the haze has widened, with more parts of the country experiencing polluted air.
As of 5pm yesterday, the number of areas with high API readings across the country rose to 45. This was a stark contrast to only 18 areas which were classified as having unhealthy or very unhealthy API levels at 5pm on Saturday.
Very unhealthy air quality levels were recorded at Johan Setia in Klang (208) at 5pm yesterday, while Sri Aman peaked at 205. Some other areas classified as having unhealthy API levels include Tasek Ipoh (182), Kuala Selangor (169), Indera Mahkota Kuantan (154), Kemaman (152). There were a number of areas – including Kluang (95), Bandaraya Melaka (99), Kangar (93) – which did not hit “unhealthy” API levels but were close to reaching it.
An API reading of between 0 and 50 is good while 51 to 100 is moderate, 101 to 200 is unhealthy, 201 to 300 very unhealthy, and 301 and above deemed hazardous.
Meanwhile, the Education Ministry said the PT3 oral assessment test (Ujian Mendengar Pentaksiran Tingkatan Tiga) for Bahasa Melayu, English and Al-Lughahal-‘Arabiah Al-Mu’asirah, scheduled from today till Wednesday, will be continued in areas that are not affected by the haze. However, schools in locations where the API readings are above 200 can postpone the test until Oct 31.
The Meteorological Department forecast that starting today, the country is expecting to have winds coming from the east or northeast. “With the presence of winds blowing from this direction, it is expected that the haze blowing from our neighbouring country will no longer head towards us and the haze situation will improve,” it said. It also said that the haze is likely to reduce due to the thunderstorms and heavy rainfall that are expected from the monsoon transition period which starts on Sept 24 until early November.
Meanwhile, school closure due to the haze continues with 57 schools in Kuala Langat and Klang are closed today after the API readings went over the 200 mark yesterday afternoon. The closure affected 68,025 students, said the Selangor Education Department in a statement.
The statement containing the full list of the 57 schools can be read on the Education Ministry’s Facebook page. For schools with API readings over 100, the administrators are reminded to stop all outdoor activities and to postpone outdoor sports and celebrations. All schools involved are also reminded to refer to the standard operating procedure on school closure due to the haze season released on Sept 18.
Meanwhile, four flights departing and arriving from Sultan Azlan Shah Airport have been cancelled Monday (Sept 23) morning.
Airport manager Mohd Ali Osman said as at 7:30am, the visibility at the airport was only at 2km.
"The four affected flights are from Air Asia on the Johor Baru-Ipoh-Singapore and Singapore-Ipoh-Johor Baru routes at 9.20am and 12.50pm, respectively.
"These four flights are carrying more than 200 passengers," he said, adding that the visibility from the tower observation deck was only at 3km.
According to the Malaysian Air Pollution Index Management (APIMS) portal, as 8am the Air Pollutant Index (API) reading at Tasek Ipoh is at 154, Taiping at 111, Pegoh at 131, Seri Manjung at 172 and Tanjung Malim at 75.