Thousands of schools in Malaysia and Indonesia were forced to close on September 19 as air quality has reached unhealthy level due to haze from forest fires.
Smog covers the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Nearly 2,500 schoolsin Malaysia were ordered to close due to smog spreading from forest fires inSumatra and Borneo islands of the neighbour Indonesia, affecting at least 1.7million students.
Notably, classes inabout 300 schools in Kuala Lumpur were suspended, marking the first large-scaleschool closure in Malaysia’s capital city.
A growing number ofMalaysians were suffering health problems due to the haze, with authoritiessaying there had been a sharp increase in outpatients at government hospitals.
The same day,hundreds of schools in hard-hit Riau province on Sumatra island of Indonesiawere also set to close, while about 1,300 were closed in Central Kalimantanprovince on Borneo.
Poor visibility forcedseveral airports in the Indonesian part of Borneo to suspend operation andscores of flights have already been diverted and cancelled in the region due tothe smog.
Indonesian authoritieshave tried to induce rain through cloud seeding in a bid to extinguish thefires. Thousands of security forces and water-bombing airplanes were deployedto tackle the blaze.
Meanwhile, airquality was in the "unhealthy" range across Singapore on September 19morning, according to the country’s National Environment Agency.
Singapore’s Ministerfor the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli called it a"major setback" in the fight against climate change.
Wildfires occur inIndonesia in every dry season due to traditional burning practices inagriculture to clear land for palm oil and pulp plantations.
The fires send smogacross Southeast Asia annually, but this year has been the worst since 2015 andhas added to concerns about wildfire outbreaks worldwide exacerbating globalwarming.
Indonesia’s disastermitigation agency said more than 328,000 ha of forest and peat land were burntdown since the start of the year./.VNA