KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 21 -- About 60 per cent of the fire in 81 hectares of plantation land and forest area in Sri Aman, Sarawak, have been put out as of yesterday, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.
She said the Fire and Rescue Department, the Civil Defence Force, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, with the cooperation of various other agencies, were working hard to put out the fire in the remaining 32 hectares of land.
She said the operations was in its sixth 24-hour day today, since Sept 19.
Dr Wan Azizah added that the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) will continue to monitor the efforts to tackle the haze problem in the affected states.
“On September 20, the Malaysian Meteorological Department and the Royal Malaysian Air Force carried out cloud-seeding operations in west Sarawak. It resulted in rain in Kuching, Samarahan, Sri Aman, Betong, Saratok and Sarikei," she said.
Dr Wan Azizah was speaking to reporters after handing out 1,200 N95 face masks to the public, courtesy of the Pandan Service Centre, at the Taman Nirwana Muhibah Complex here today.
She said two other cloud-seeding operations were conducted on Sept 12 and 19 in Peninsular Malaysia and Sarawak, and similar operations will be conducted in other haze-hit states in the country, depending on the atmospheric conditions.
Yesterday, a statement from the Department of Environment (DOE) said the fires were a factor contributing to the Air Pollutant Index (API) in Sri Aman shooting up to more than 300 which is in the hazardous category.
According to the statement, the forest fires in Sumatera and Kalimantan, Indonesia, were still causing the haze, causing the rise in API readings in all areas along the west coast and south parts of Peninsular Malaysia, west Sarawak, as well as Tawau and Sandakan in Sabah.
Dr Wan Azizah also advised the public, especially those in areas with unhealthy and very unhealthy levels of API readings, to reduce outdoor activities as these could lead to haze-related illnesses.
"Drink a lot of water, use face masks when outdoors, and avoid open burning,” she said.
Meanwhile, according to the Malaysian Air Pollution Index Management System (APIMS), as of noon today, Sri Aman recorded an API reading of 117 (unhealthy category) while Kuching was at 166, Samarahan (140), Sarikei (120) and Sibu (113).
In Selangor, four areas recorded an API reading of more than 101, namely Johan Setia Klang (153), Petaling Jaya (141), Shah Alam (123) and Banting (119) while two areas in Negeri Sembilan - Nilai (142) and Seremban (124) were in the same category.
Also in the unhealthy category were Batu Muda (144) and Cheras (151) in Kuala Lumpur, while Putrajaya and Segamat, Johor, recorded API readings of 146 and 129.
An API reading of between 0 and 50 is categorised as good, 51-100 (moderate), 101 to 200 (unhealthy), 201 to 300 (very unhealthy) and above 300 (hazardous).
To the latest news on the haze situation, refer to www.bernama.com