Customers sit at an outdoor café in Batam on Wednesday as haze from forest fires in Sumatra shrouds the Indonesian island an hour’s boat ride from Singapore. (Antara Photo/M.N. Kanwa)

Sumatra, Kalimantan Haze Hits Singapore, Malaysia


SEPTEMBER 10, 2015

Jakarta. Haze from forest fires raging in Sumatra and Kalimantan has reached Singapore and Malaysia, sending air pollution indexes there to dangerous levels.

Singapore’s Pollutants Standard Index hit its highest level this year on Thursday afternoon, the Straits Times reported, with the city-state’s health ministry warning residents to cut back on outdoor activity.

The three-hour PSI measured 138 at 4 p.m. local time. Any reading above 100 is deemed unhealthy.

In Kuching in the state of Sarawak, on Malaysian Borneo, the Air Pollutant Index reached 137 on Thursday morning, well into unhealthy territory, the Star Online reported. The haze also brought visibility at the city’s airport down to 400 meters, prompting flight disruptions for a second straight day.

The Asean Specialized Meteorological Center on Wednesday upgraded its haze alert to level 3, the highest on its four-point scale, citing an “escalation” of fires in Kalimantan, the Indonesian portion of the island of Borneo.

“The prevailing dry weather in Kalimantan has led to a further escalation of hotspot activities there in recent weeks,” it said.

“In the coming days, the current dry weather conditions over Kalimantan are expected to persist. Under the prevailing wind conditions, transboundary smoke haze could continue to spread to Sarawak and other parts of the region,” it added.

The ASMC’s haze alert for Sumatra has been at level 3 since Sept. 2.

A weather agency official in Indonesia said strong winds were stoking the fires, particularly in Sumatra’s Riau province.