Malaysia looking into cloud seeding as haze worsens

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia is looking into the feasibility of cloud seeding to induce rain in areas which are currently affected by haze, as more areas in Sarawak recorded unhealthy levels of air pollution.

Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said yesterday that the meteorology department, MetMalaysia, would have to take into consideration the atmospheric condition of the affected areas to gauge if there will be clouds.

Transboundary haze was detected last Thursday spreading from the Indonesian province of West Kalimantan to the Malaysian state of Sarawak, Indonesia’s climate agency said on Friday.

Eight areas in Sarawak recorded unhealthy levels of pollution on the Air Pollutant Index (API) as of yesterday, compared with six areas on Friday, with Sarawak capital Kuching registering an API reading of 216, which is classified as very unhealthy, as of 2pm yesterday.

An API reading of between 0 and 50 is classified as good, 51 to 100 as moderate, 101 to 200 as unhealthy, 201 to 300 as very unhealthy, and 300 and above is hazardous.

Despite the worsening conditions, the Sarawak state education department said it has no plans to postpone the Ujian Penilaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR), a nationwide exam for Primary 6 pupils. Instead, pupils will be provided face masks as a precautionary measure.

“If the API readings exceed 201, schools will be closed but the UPSR examination will go on as scheduled under strict supervision by the school and exam invigilators,” the head of the Sarawak State Disaster Management Committee secretariat, Major Ismail Mahedin, said.

Meanwhile, Datuk Seri Wan Azizah, who is the chairman of the National Disaster Management Committee, said that state disaster management teams and the relevant authorities, including the Fire and Rescue Department, will continue to monitor the situation.

“The National Disaster Management Agency and the state government will allocate some funds to get masks to the people,” she said.

Dr Wan Azizah also urged everyone, especially those in the affected areas, to remain indoors and wear masks when they go outdoors to avoid any health complications.

Eleven areas in Malaysia have recorded unhealthy API levels, the highest number of places affected since the start of this year’s haze season.

According to Department of Environment data, seven places in Sarawak along with four in Peninsular Malaysia had API readings of between 101 and 200.

Malaysia is looking at sending a diplomatic note to Indonesia to take immediate action on putting out the fires that are causing haze in the region.


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