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Malaysia shuts schools as haze worsens

Malaysian authorities on Sunday ordered most of the country’s schools shut for two days because of possible health risks posed by the thick haze from Indonesian forest fires.

The education ministry said all schools, except a handful in outlying areas, must close their doors on Monday and Tuesday.

Education Minister Mahdzir Khalid said

“The haze that is happening is beyond our control.

“This issue has to be addressed wisely and quickly as it can do harm to our children. We will not compromise with anything that may bring harm to our children in schools.”

He also tweeted:

 

The translated version reads: "Announcement : All schools in Malaysia ordered closed for two days (5 and 6 October 2015)."

He added at a press conference today:

"For Kelantan, Sabah and Sarawak, the Education Ministry will monitor the haze hourly before deciding on the need to close schools.  

"If the haze condition deteriorates in these three states, we will also take the same measure."

The persistent smog has afflicted large swathes of Southeast Asia for weeks, sparking health alerts, numerous school shutdowns and affecting flights.

The pollution is on track to be the worst on record, surpassing the US$9 billion (S$12 billion) damage recorded in 1997.

Close to half of Malaysia’s 52 pollutant monitoring stations around the country registered “unhealthy” air quality on Sunday.

Six stations, including one in Kuala Lumpur registered “very unhealthy” levels, with one area in the outskirts of the capital hovering close to the “hazardous” level.

While Malaysia, Singapore and large portions of Indonesia have for weeks choked on pungent smoke from forest fires on Sumatra Island, the Philippine island of Cebu also suffered its seventh straight day of haze on Saturday.

Sources: AFP, Star Online, Twitter

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