Vice President Jusuf Kalla, right, talks with Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi in Jakarta on Friday. (Antara Photo/Milla/Setwapres)

Malaysia Evacuates Citizens From Haze-Hit Riau

BY :BASTEN GOKKON

SEPTEMBER 18, 2015

Jakarta. Malaysia has sent two C-130 Hercules military transport planes to evacuate hundreds of its citizens residing in haze-hit Riau, while the country's deputy prime minister visited Jakarta on Friday to discuss the crisis.

In a statement on Friday, Malaysia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the Royal Malaysian Air Force was to bring home 173 people, mostly students and their families.

Hardi Hamdin, a Malaysian consulate officer in Pekanbaru, estimated that some 400 Malaysians were currently staying in the Sumatran province, where air pollutant index readings had exceeded 900, which is considered "hazardous."

"This is all for health protection purposes. Once the air quality goes to normal, we will help return them to Riau," Hardi said, as quoted by state news agency Antara.

A joint team of over 1,000 officers from the Indonesian army and police forces have been deployed to extinguish the wildfires. The Riau government has declared a state of emergency due to the haze.

Malaysia shut down all schools in five states on Tuesday as the region's air quality index dipped to "very unhealthy" levels.

Earlier on Friday, Indonesia's Vice President Jusuf Kalla and Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi agreed to resolve the haze crisis together.

The Malaysian government also expressed its support for Indonesian authorities in punishing any Malaysian company found to be involved in setting forests ablaze.

On Wednesday, Indonesia's Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar said a Malaysian company was among more than 20 firms under investigation by the police in connection with forest fires.

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