Hazy weather expected in western Sarawak and Miri

Aerial view of wildfires in Miri. (file photo)

KUCHING, Aug 19: The hazy weather is expected to stay in western Sarawak and Miri due to the Southwesterly wind from Kalimantan, Indonesia.

The Sarawak Disaster Management Committee said the information they gathered from the Department of Meteorology Malaysia revealed that there will be modest visibility of between 4 to 8 kilometers in the western and northern regions of Sarawak while the rest of the state will have good visibility of over 10 kilometer.

“Rain with thunderstorm is expected to be in one or two places in western and northern Sarawak which will come in the next seven days and is expected to reduce the impact of the haze,” said the committee in a statement after a meeting today.

There are 26 hotspots in Sarawak – Samarahan (1), Sarikei (1), Sibu (8), Mukah (4), Kapit (1), Bintulu (4) and Miri (7), said the committee.

The Air Pollution Index (API) at the Institut Latihan Perindustrian (ILP) Miri and SK Kuala Baram 2 was reported to be very hazardous while the API reading in Sri Aman stayed at an unhealthy level while other places, moderately healthy.

The Statistic by the Natural Environment Resources Board (NREB) showed that there is a total of 180 cases of fires from January to August.

According to NREB, factors contributing to the fires were El-Nino weather pattern, cross-border haze, unintended wind conditions, flammable materials found in the area of fire, vast area of idle land that is exposed to fire every year and open burning which has no supervision from landowners or plantation developers.

The committee disclosed that the efforts and actions taken by NREB included obtaining cooperation of all agencies; constant patrolling by NREB and Department of Environment (DOE); awareness programs for local residents; briefing on enforcement work; ban on open burning; the use of drones for monitoring and re-activate Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) in tackling open burning in Kuala Baram and haze. 

The committee said Sarawak Fire and Rescue Department from Aug 1 to 18 had reported and dealt with 520 cases of fire involving a total area of 1,986 acres. JBPM on average responded to as many as 30 bush fires per day.

In this regard, the public are advised not to do any open burning activities as this can further affect air quality and cause haze conditions to be worsen. 

The public are also be advised to take precautions such as drink water regularly, reduce and stop outdoor activities such as sports or recreation and stay indoors as much as possible and wear masks when leaving the house.  — DayakDaily