Haze in Sabah improves with fires under control

  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 06 Apr 2016

KOTA KINABALU: The haze situation in Sabah has improved, as more fires are brought under control.

Schools that had been closed since Monday, will reopen today.

Worst hit Beaufort continues to see festering fires particularly from the nearly burned out 4,000ha peat swamp at Binsuluk Forest Reserve which was also spreading to neighbouring oil palm plantations in the district about 100km from here.

Nearly 10,000ha of different types of vegetation including oil palm plantations have been destroyed by fires spreading from the peat swamp area, Beaufort district officer Mohd Shaid Othman said.

He said the hour-long rainfall on Tuesday was not enough to put out big and small fires in the district, although the unhealthy conditions had improved slightly.

The Department of Environment mobile station in the Beaufort/Papar area showed the Air Pollutant Index (API) at a moderate level of 95 as of noon yesterday from its very unhealthy level of 298 three days ago.

Sabah Education Department deputy director Maimunah Suhaidul said a total of 83 primary and secondary schools with over 20,000 students in Beaufort, Kuala Penyu and Papar would reopen today.

Sabah Forestry Department director Datuk Sam Mannan said the Binsuluk reserve had been more or less wiped out by fires.

About 8,000 ha of the 12,000 ha forest reserve had been wiped out by fires in the 1997 El Nino dry spell and the remaining area was wiped out by peat fires this time around.

The API in Kota Kinabalu and surrounding areas in the west coast remained moderate, though the air remained hazy, with the API hovering around 60.

Visibility in Kota Kinabalu was 2.5km yesterday, though flights were not disrupted.

The El Nino induced dry spell, which entered its third month, has seen continuing efforts to provide water to over 300 villages in 22 districts after gravity water feeds, wells and traditional water sources from streams dry up.

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