Monday, November 18

Sarawak records unhealthy API with Kuching the highest at 224

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Smoke billows from a forest fire burning in Tapin regency near Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan province, Indonesia in late August in this photo taken by Antara Foto. — Reuters

KUCHING: Sarawak recorded very unhealthy air quality as at 6pm yesterday with the air pollutant index (API) of 224 recorded in Kuching, and 202 in Samarahan.

Five other areas also recorded unhealthy API; ILP Miri (117), Miri (151), Sarikei (133), Sri Aman (176), and SK Kuala Baram 2 (118). The rest recorded moderate readings with Kapit the lowest at 64.

There were six hotspots detected in the state as at 4pm.

The National Disaster Management Agency’s (Nadma) National Disaster Control Centre (NDCC) thus advised the activation of the district-level National Disaster Committee and all response areas based on the National Haze Action Plan. All ops centres must send notice to the state and district-level.

The NDCC constantly monitors the API reading with co-operation of the Department of Environment. NDCC is on standby to receive information on disaster and disaster aid, and the disaster operations from time to time via 03-80642400, fax 03-80635420 and eamil, [email protected]

The Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC) activated Alert Level 3 for Kalimantan on Thursday due to further deterioration in haze situation in Kalimantan over the past few days.

Persistent hotspot clusters detected in the provinces of South, West and Central Kalimantan have contributed to a significant build-up of smoke haze over many areas in Kalimantan. Smoke haze from hotspots in West Kalimantan has been observed to be blown by the prevailing winds to western Sarawak.

Based on surveillance by the NOAA-19 satellite, there has been an increase in hotspot activities – 114 and 459 hotspots were detected in Kalimantan on Sept 3 and 4 respectively.

“Now that the dry weather is expected to persist over the region in the coming weeks, a further escalation of hotspot activities in Kalimantan is possible. With the prevailing winds forecast to continue blowing from the southeast or southwest, ASMC assessed that the risk of transboundary haze occurrence is high,” it said.

Level 3 is the highest alert level with over 250 hotspots in two consecutive days with dense smoke plumes, dry weather persisting, and prevailing winds blowing towards Asean countries.

Level 1 is for dry season, level 2 means exceeding 150 hotspots in two consecutive days with dense smoke plumes, dry weather persisting, and prevailing winds blowing towards Asean countries.

The number of hotspots detected in Kalimantan on the other hand, has decreased from 811 to 780 yesterday.

There were scattered showers in the northern Asean region yesterday. In the south the weather remained generally dry over many areas. Moderate to dense smoke haze continued to be observed from persistent hotspots in the provinces of Riau, Jambi, South Sumatra, and Lampung.

“In Kalimantan, widespread moderate to dense smoke haze continued to shroud many areas in Central and South Kalimantan where persistent hotspot clusters were detected. In West Kalimantan, moderate to dense smoke haze was observed to emanate from scattered hotspots. The smoke haze has been blown by the prevailing winds toward western Sarawak,” said ASMC.

Meanwhile, over the next few days, showers can be expected over the northern Asean region and the prevailing winds are forecast to continue blowing from the southwest or west. In the southern region, generally dry conditions are expected to prevail, but there may be isolated showers over northern Sumatra, parts of Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and North Kalimantan.

The prevailing winds are forecast to blow from the southeast or southwest. With the weather likely to remain generally dry over the next few days, the hotspot and haze situation in Sumatra and Kalimantan can be expected to persist.