Visibility below 500m


Kuching city shrouded in haze once again. — ZULAZHAR SHELEE / TheStar

KUCHING: Visibility in the state capital plunged to just 500m yesterday morning while five areas recorded unhealthy Air Pollutant Index (API) readings.

It was also the third day in a row schools were closed, affecting 647 primary and secondary schools and some 226,000 students in Kuching, Samarahan, Sri Aman and Betong divisions.

The return of the haze was due to unchanging southeasterly winds, still blowing from Kalimantan, Indonesia, since last weekend. The wind direction is not expected to change until Friday.

At 2pm yesterday, the highest API reading in Sarawak was 160 in Sri Aman, followed by 143 in Samarahan, 137 in Kuching, 123 in Sarikei and 103 in Sibu. Limbang, Miri and Kapit had moderate readings of 63, 80 and 83, respectively.

Latest Aqua satellite images showed 585 hotspots were detected on Borneo on Monday.

According to the Singapore-based Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre, hotspot activities on Borneo remained elevated.

“Many parts of the Borneo island were shrouded in moderate-to-dense haze and some haze has spread to the southern parts of South China Sea,” the centre said.

Singapore’s national environment agency also stated that some haze from Kalimantan had been observed to have spread to the sea areas southeast of the island nation.

The prevailing El Nino condition continues to have an impact on rainfall in the southeast Asian region. Below-average rainfall was recorded across most parts of the southern region.

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