Thousands stranded at Ipoh airport


PETALING JAYA: More than a thousand air travellers were left stranded at the Sultan Azlan Shah (LTSAS) airport in Ipoh, Perak, as flights were cancelled due to the worsening haze blanketing the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia and west Sarawak.

The haze also prevented fishermen in the state’s Manjung district from going out to sea due to safety concerns over low visibility.

Attempts to carry out cloud seeding in the worst-hit parts of Selangor were also hampered by unsuitable weather conditions.

In Ipoh, 1,104 passengers were affected yesterday by flight disruptions at LTSAS. Airport manager Mohd Ali Osman said five flights from Scoot, AirAsia and Malindo to and fro from Singapore and Johor Baru were affected.

He said the flights have been rescheduled to take off from the airport today.

“The passengers from Johor Baru and Singapore coming to Ipoh, their flights were diverted to Subang and KLIA, and land transportation had been arranged by the airline companies to send their passengers to Ipoh,” he added.

He said from the six flights supposed to take off from the airport, only one managed to do so at 8.45am.

“Flight visibility went down to 2,500m,” he added.

Among passengers hit by the flight cancellations were a family of seven heading to Singapore for a wedding today.

One of the family members, Desmond Wan, 36, said they were attending a relative’s wedding, and had been entrusted with bringing the wedding dress from Malaysia to Singapore.

“Our Malindo flight was supposed to take off at 12.40pm to Johor Baru, and when the visibility level did not improve at 4pm, we were told the flight was cancelled.

“At 5.30pm, we had to make impromptu arrangements, and managed to get a van to take us to Johor Baru for RM1,100.

“I just hope and pray we make it on time for the wedding,” he added.

Norma Nordin, 47, from Singapore, was supposed to return home after spending a week in Ipoh.

The housewife said her husband and two children were in Ipoh since it was school holidays back in Singapore.

“Our Scoot flight was supposed to take off at 5.30pm to Singapore, but we were told that all flights had been cancelled.

“The airline company will be providing accommodation for the night,” she added.

The haze has been so severe in Manjung, Perak that fishermen in the Bagan Panchor coast have not been able to go out to sea.

Fisherman Faizul Sofian, 42, said although there were still several from the fishing community here who continue to haul their nets, they had been returning with poor catches, mainly because visibility was poor.

“When it is hazy, the haul is lower. So many of us (fishermen) are taking a break.

“Hopefully, the situation won’t last very long as we depend on the sea for our livelihood.

“We would like to go out (to sea) every day if possible, but this haze is making things almost impossible to do so,” he told Bernama.

The Malaysian Meteorological Department said cloud seeding operations to reduce the impact of the haze in Selangor yesterday was hampered by unsuitable weather conditions.

Its director-general Jailan Simon said the weather yesterday was relatively dry and with low humidity, which was unsuitable for cloud seeding.

“However, we will monitor the weather tomorrow,” he told reporters during a visit to Johan Setia here to observe the haze situation there yesterday.

The Environment Department said forest fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan, Indonesia, are still causing transboundary haze and a major increase in the Air Pollutant Index readings in most areas in the western, southern and eastern states of the Peninsular Malaysia, as well as western Sarawak.

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Air Pollutant Index

Highest API Readings

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    Source: Department of Environment, Malaysia