Cyclone making haze worse

PETALING JAYA: The haze is back after a hiatus of several days and the air quality is now getting worse in Sarawak and several other parts of the country.

A cyclone in the Philippines is carrying winds with smoke particles from land-clearing fires in Indonesia towards Malaysia.

Of the 53 areas measured nationwide, the Air Pollutant Index (API) readings rose in 23 of them.

It fell in seven areas and was unchanged in the rest as at 5pm yesterday compared to readings taken in the same period a day earlier.

Kuching was the highest with 127, followed by Samarahan (123) and Sri Aman (121).

In Port Klang, the air quality worsened from 61 to 69; 52 to 56 in Petaling Jaya; 61 to 71 in Larkin; 71 to 78 in Pasir Gudang; 54 to 65 in Kota Baru; and 53 to 69 in Port Dickson.

A reading of 100 to 200 indicates unhealthy air quality; 201 to 300 is very unhealthy; and above 300 is hazardous. A reading of 51 to 100 is moderate.

In Sabah, the air quality worsened in the south-eastern Tawau district while some interior areas were also affected yesterday.

Sabah Meteorological Department director Abdul Malik Tussin said visibility fell to about 4km in Tawau, which borders Kalimantan, where some 78 hotspots were recorded.

In the interiors of Keningau and Ranau, visibility was at 6km and 7km respectively. In Kota Kinabalu and Sandakan, it was more than 10km.

“We expect the south-westerly winds to blow until Sept 28, although tropical storms over the South China Sea may help lift the haze briefly from Sabah,” said Abdul Malik.

In Kuching, Sarawak, poor visibility yesterday caused two flights to be cancelled while 13 others were delayed.

Kuching International Airport senior manager Mohd Nadzim Hashim said visibility there dropped to a mere 1km.

In a statement yesterday, the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry said satellite imagery showed more than 470 hotspots in Kalimantan and 26 in Sumatra.