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Title: Rain, winds clear stubborn haze
Date: 12-Oct-2006
Category: Malaysia
Source/Author: New Straights Times (Malaysia)
Description: KUALA LUMPUR: Strong winds and rain helped clear the haze, with only two areas in the peninsula recording "unhealthy" levels.

New Straits Times - KUALA LUMPUR: Strong winds and rain helped clear the haze, with only two areas in the peninsula recording "unhealthy" levels.

Malacca city and Bukit Rambai recorded Air Pollutant Index readings of 134 and 124.

The Department of Environment said Kuala Selangor’s reading improved drastically from 106 to 73, and Nilai from 102 to 87 and 33 other areas also registered moderate air quality.

Sarawak can thank the rains for rescuing it from the choking haze that has blanketed the state the past week.

After a week when API readings had been above 100 in many places, they dipped below the 100 mark in several divisions after the rain yesterday.

An API of 0-51 denotes good air quality, 51-100 moderate air quality, 101-200 unhealthy, 201-300 very unhealthy, 301-500 hazardous to health and more than 500 an emergency situation.

Rain yesterday in Kuching, Sibu, Bintulu, Miri, Mulu and Limbang helped clear the haze in Sarawak.

Cloud-seeding operations which began last week helped bring the rain.

Rain is forecast for all divisions in Sarawak in the nights and early mornings for the next several days.

In Kuantan, Batu Pahat, Mersing and Malacca, visibility was between 2.5km and 4km while Kuching and Sri Aman recorded between one kilometre and two kilometres.

In Palangkarya, on the Indonesian side of Borneo island, around 1,000 Muslims, many of them wearing protective masks, gathered for a special prayer to bring rain believing it to be the only way to extinguish the fires.

"We hope, with our special prayers this morning, Allah will send us heavy rain that will cover our place for weeks," ulama Ahmadi Isa told the crowd.

Hidayat, an official from the meteorological station there, said strong winds blowing north had helped clear the haze, while rain fell in several parts of the Indonesian portion of Borneo on Monday.


Seeking solutions, not resolutions

Meanwhile, five Asean ministers, scheduled to meet in Singapore to discuss the recurring haze problem, will have to come up with practical steps to overcome it.

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said the Cabinet wanted the meeting, which would include Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid, to come up with solutions and not just resolutions or agreements.

"The Cabinet supports the call for the meeting and discuss the need for countries in Asean affected by the haze to work together to take the necessary action.

"In most times haze occurs due to forest fires and not just open burning.

"Forest fires need different treatment unlike open burning."

The meeting comes amid growing frustration among countries affected by the recurrent haze phenomenon caused mainly by forest and bush fires in Indonesia’s Kalimantan and Sumatra.

Besides Indonesia, four others attending the meeting are Malaysia, Thailand, Brunei and host, Singapore.

The one-day meeting is at the invitation of Singapore’s Minister of Environment and Water Resources Dr Yaacob Ibrahim.

Syed Hamid said if affected countries could co-operate with one another like in the purchase of necessary equipment to fight forest fires, the problem could be minimised.

"If the burden is put on just one single country, this will not be fair. Countries like Singapore and Brunei are also badly affected.

"We need to work together in the spirit of Asean solidarity.


Website (URL) http://www.nst.com.my

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