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Haze forces closure of over 1,000 schools in two Malaysia’s states

A general view of Malaysia's Kuching city shrouded by haze, on Sept 17, 2019. PHOTO: DPA. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

Pan Pacific Agency | COMMUICATION AGENCY FOR PACIFICA REGIONS

KUCHING, Sep 19, 2019, The Straits Times. Continuing haze has forced the closure of 809 schools in Sarawak and 205 schools in Perak on Thursday (Sept 19), with air quality still at harmful levels, reported The Straits Times.

In a statement, the Sarawak State Education Department said that 705 primary schools and 104 secondary schools were closed, with about 252,237 students affected.

Seventeen school districts in all were affected, reported Bernama. Besides Betong, Bau, Kuching, Lubok Antu, Padawan, Samarahan, Sri Aman, Lundu and Kanowit – where the closures were announced on Wednesday – schools in the districts of Saratok, Simunjam, Kanowit, Maradong, Sibu, Sarikei, Julau and Daro were also closed on Thursday.

Five districts in Sarawak recorded very unhealthy Air Pollutant Index (API) readings at 6am on Thursday, namely Kuching (269), Samarahan (229), Sibu (231), Sarikei (221) and Sri Aman (207).

Meanwhile, five other districts registered unhealthy API readings. While the API was measured at 145 in Bintulu, it was 190 in Mukah, 114 in Miri, 106 in ILP Miri and 127 in Samalajau.

A total of 17 hot spots have been detected in the state, according to the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee. Secretariat chief Major Ismail Mahedin said two hot spots were detected in Betong, two in Sri Aman, one each in Belaga, Pakan and Julau, five in Marudi, two in Song and three in Tatau.

In Perak, 250 schools spread across four districts in the state were ordered to close on Thursday due to the haze.

The closure order affected 137 schools under the Larut, Matang and Selama district education office and 71 schools under the Kerian district education office, according to Perak Education director Mohd Suhaimi Mohamed Ali.

In addition, 38 schools under the Kuala Kangsar district education office and four schools under the Hulu Perak district education office were also closed, with a total of 88,028 students affected.

The API reading in Taiping was at an unhealthy level of 139 as of 7am.

In some good news, 303 schools in several districts – namely Manjung, Hilir Perak, Bagan Datuk and Central Perak – were reopened on Thursday, as the haze situation in the areas improved.

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