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Air quality in Malaysia nosedives, causing officials to close schools

Air quality in Malaysia decreases further, closing schools and cancelling flights around the area

Malaysian officials have deemed the air quality in the capital as “very unhealthy, ” causing schools to close as a result of the unsafe conditions.

According to Channel News Asia, slash-and-burn farming in Indonesia has caused smoke to drift towards the Asian country. A thick haze has settled over the land, lowering air quality levels at a drastic rate.

“This is not a natural disaster. Haze is a man-made problem that should not be tolerated. It has caused major impact on the health, society and economy of our region,” said Vivian Balakrishnan, the Environment Minister in Singapore. He continued to say that this was a problem that has gone on “for far too long.”

This is the second time in the past month officials have had to take these measures to assure the safety of their people. The haze has caused Indonesia to declare a state of emergency in the Riau providence of Sumatra, and if things don’t improve other countries in the chain of volcanic islands could be faced with similar actions.

Those countries affected have taken action against companies that continue to contribute to the air pollution problem. Philly.com reports that leaders in the affected areas are coming together to take a stand.

“We have offered Indonesia our help to put out the fires, and asked them to share with us the identity of companies responsible for causing the haze,” wrote Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in an announcement over Facebook. Despite efforts, the air quality is to remain in the hazardous range for up to 24 hours.
Tourism is also taking a hard hit from the haze, as residents as well as tourists are reporting respiratory problems due to conditions, and flights have been cancelled due to decreased visibility.
“This is the first time I’m experiencing the haze firsthand,”  said Gokulnath Durai from Chennai, India. “Today it really has worsened. You feel that.”

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