Schools close in Malaysian capital as haze threat rises

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Kuala Lumpur (dpa) – Schools were closed in the Malaysian capital and outlying areas Tuesday amid worsening haze caused by forest and plantation fires in neighbouring Indonesia, officials said.

Malaysian Education Minister Mahdzir Khalid said instructions to suspend classes have been given to schools in Kuala Lumpur, the states of Selangor, Negri Sembilan, Malacca and the federal government centre of Putrajaya.

The Department of Environment’s Air Pollutant Index (API) readings in haze-affected areas rose to as high as 185 early Tuesday. API readings between 200 and 300 are considered “very unhealthy.”

The country’s Meteorological Department will begin cloud seeding in affected areas later in the day to induce rain and dissipate the haze.

Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, natural resources and environment minister, said he would meet with his Indonesian counterpart on September 25 to discuss the problem.

He said he would offer Malaysia’s assistance in putting out the forest and plantation fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan, where open burning to clear lands is common.

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