Tuesday, July 5

Haze: Cloud seeding ordered for Miri, Kuala Baram, Sibu, Sri Aman

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Smoke from peat soil and forest fires in Kuala Baram has reduced visibility to road users travelling along the Senadin-Kuala Baram main road leading towards the Sungai Tujoh Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Complex.

MIRI: The National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) has been directed to carry out cloud seeding operations in Miri, Kuala Baram, Sibu and Sri Aman following the worsening haze situation in those areas.

The Department of Environment in a statement to the media yesterday said that the cloud seeding needed to be done as the air quality recorded at SK Kuala Baram 2 in Miri and Industrial Training Institute (ILP) Miri had reached hazardous and very unhealthy levels, respectively.

The Air Pollutant Index (API) reading at SK Kuala Baram 2 yesterday breached the hazardous level of 353 at 5pm – a significant increase from only 153 recorded at 6am yesterday.

The API reading at ILP Miri was 299 at 5pm yesterday, a drop from 319 at 6am.

Other divisions in the state experiencing high API readings as of 5pm yesterday were Sibu (179) and Sri Aman (108).

An API reading of zero to 50 denotes good air quality, 51 to 100 (moderate), 101 to 200 (unhealthy), 201 to 300 (very unhealthy), while above 300 is considered hazardous.

Meanwhile, Fire and Rescue Department Miri chief Law Poh Kiong said with a large forest fire having been put out Sunday, he is hopeful the haze situation in Miri will improve over the coming days.

“What is left now is the smoke from the areas that are very close to the main road which has been burnt in the fire. Our concern now is that this smoke will cause haze.

“However, we are hoping that in the next couple of days, the smoke will be reduced and the skies will be brighter,” said Law.

Meanwhile, Kuching and Samarahan recorded moderate API readings of 81 and 82 respectively, while in Bintulu it was 84, Miri city (94), Sarikei (99), Kapit (64), Mukah (84) and Limbang (56), as of 5pm yesterday.

The Fire and Rescue Services Department in a statement yesterday said a total of 332 wildfire cases have been recorded from Aug 1 until yesterday, averaging about 27 cases a day.

It said ongoing fire-fighting operations are in Kuala Baram in Miri, which is now into its 12th day; Kampung Sedi, Pulau Bruit (sixth day); Kampung Sanki, Simunjan (third day); Kampung Bungan, Mukah (third day); Kampung Tuie, Betong (third day); Taman Harmoni, Sri Aman (fourth day); Miri-Marudi road (fourth day) and Kampung Kaong, Kota Samarahan (second day).

Sarawakians, meanwhile, should brace themselves for yet another dry and stuffy week, as the Malaysian Meteorological Department is not expecting rain until Thursday.

In its weekly forecast until Sunday, the department said that isolated showers are expected in inland areas in the afternoons from Thursday.