Worsening haze: Sri Aman API hits 417; 1,037 schools closed

KUCHING, Sept 20: The air pollution index (API) of Sri Aman has reached a hazardous reading of 417, as at 11am this morning, the highest in Sarawak as well as Malaysia.

This was followed by Kuching with an API of 246 in Kuching, Sarikei (228) and Samarahan (219) where the air quality was at very unhealthy level.

Other areas with unhealthy air quality are Miri (101), Bintulu (112), Mukah (152) and Sibu (195).

Sarawak is the only region in Malaysia that is under serious haze attack.

Sarawak Disaster Management Committee secretariat chief Major Ismail Mahedin informed that the visibility in Kuching has plummeted to 400 metres, while Sibu at 1.5km; Sri Aman (2km); Bintulu and Limbang (3km); Mulu (2.5km); Miri and Kapit (4km).

Meanwhile, due to the deteriorating air quality, a total of 1,037 schools in 20 districts across Sarawak are closed today, affecting 325,391 students.

Sarawak Education Department informed in a statement that they involved 136 secondary schools and 901 primary schools in districts of Kuching, Bau, Padawan, Lundu, Sri Aman, Lubok Antu, Sibu, Selangau, Kanowit, Sarikei, Julau, Maradong, Samarahan, Simunjan, Serian, Mukah, Dalat, Daro and Betong.

The districts that have the largest number of students affected were Kuching, which has 23 schools with 60,509 students; Padawan (14 schools, 45,653 students); Sri Aman (5 schools, 10,238 students); Sibu (23 schools, 21,375 students); Sarikei (5 schools, 11,162 students); Samarahan (9 schools, 28,078 students); Serian (6 schools, 19,241 students); and Betong (7 schools, 14,194 students).

Sarawak Education Department reminded all schools to observe the standard operation procedure (SOP) of the Education Ministry when haze is concerned.

The Education Ministry has in the beginning of the year sent a circular with regards to schools’ SOP on haze where schools must be immediately closed if the API exceeds 200 in the area.

As of 10am this morning, the API readings of various cities and towns in Sarawak are as follows:

Towns and cities API
Limbang  76
ILP Miri  91
Miri  101
Samalaju 97
Bintulu 112
Mukah 152
Kapit 96
Sibu 195
Sarikei 228
Sri Aman  420
Samarahan  219
Kuching  246
Kuala Baram 88

API of 0-50 indicates good air quality; 51- 100 is considered moderate; 101-200, unhealthy; 201-300, very unhealthy and above 300, hazardous. — DayakDaily