Landfill fire forces 400 to evacuate

Hazardous fumes: Toxic smoke coming from the landfill at Pulau Burung in Nibong Tebal. — ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

GEORGE TOWN: Residents staying near the Pulau Burung landfill are being relocated while 10 schools have been ordered to close for the next three days.

Some 400 residents from 86 families living near the landfill were evacuated by the authorities following an unhealthy Air Quality Index reading as a result of the fire that broke out at the landfill last Wednesday.

State police chief Comm Datuk Mohd Shuhaily Mohd Zain assured the residents who had been ordered to evacuate their homes since Sunday not to worry about the safety of their neighbourhood.

Police personnel on duty, including the Motorcycle Patrol Unit as well as the south Seberang Prai district Patrol Car Unit, would conduct regular patrols in the affected areas, he said in a post on the Penang PDRM Facebook page on Monday.

Comm Mohd Shuhaily visited the landfill site on Monday, accompanied by south Seberang Prai OCPD Supt Lee Chong Chern and his deputy DSP Baeyah Abdul Wahab.

Present during the visit were Fire and Rescue Department Prai zone chief Nor Hairulddin Noraidin, who briefed Comm Mohd Shuhaily on the fire.

Meanwhile, the Penang Education Department ordered 10 schools, including two secondary schools, to be closed for three days beginning today, said its director Abdul Rashid Abdul Samad.

“The next course of action will be made after we see developments,” he was quoted as saying by Bernama.

In a statement, southern district education chief Mohamad Dziauddin Mat Saad said the decision on the closure was made after a district disaster management meeting on Monday.

The schools affected by the closure are SJK (T) Ladang Byram, SJK (C) Pai Teik, SMK Seri Nibong, SJK (T) Nibong Tebal, SK Seri Sentosa, SK Keledang Jaya, SJK (T) Ladang Changkat, SMK Methodist, SK Methodist and SK Nibong Tebal.

Mohamad Dziauddin said the affected schools had also been instructed to inform parents, canteen and bus operators, and others about the closure.

“We also instructed the schools to provide personnel on Wednesday morning in case there are students who did not receive news of the closure,” he added.

He said the district education office would announce any decision on the reopening of the 10 schools no later than this Saturday, based on the decisions and advice of the south Seberang Prai district disaster management committee.

Mohamad Dziauddin said during the closure, students would resume their learning through online classes and the schools were required to inform teachers and parents of this.

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