World Bulletin / News Desk
Malaysia declared a state of emergency in two parts of the southern state of Johor on Sunday as smoke from land-clearing fires in Indonesia pushed air pollution above the level considered hazardous.
The illegal burning of forests and other land on Indonesia's Sumatra island, to the west of peninsular Malaysia and Singapore, to clear space for palm oil plantations is a chronic problem during the June-September dry season.
The "haze" caused by fires in Riau province on Sumatra has also shrouded neighbouring Singapore but air quality in the city state improved over the weekend after reaching hazardous levels there.
"Prime Minister Najib Razak has agreed to declare emergency status in Muar and Ledang with immediate effect," Malaysian Natural Resources and Environment Minister G. Palanivel said in a Facebook post.
Palanivel said the air pollution index in the two districts had exceeded 750. A reading above 300 indicates that air pollution is hazardous.
Neither Palanivel nor the prime minister's office could be reached for comment.
A spokesman at the Johor state operations centre told Reuters that it was awaiting orders from the National Security Council and that residents in the affected areas should stay indoors.
Indonesian officials have deflected blame by suggesting companies based in Malaysia and Singapore may be partly responsible. Malaysia-listed Sime Darby and Singapore's Wilmar Group both deny the charge.
Cyber-attack in 2014 likely the largest data breach in history
Photographs, videos, polls, quoted tweets no longer count toward 140-character limit
2.5 million phones recalled days before Apple introduces iPhone 7
Mark Zuckerberg has vowed to continue effort to provide satellite for Africa
3.7-billion-year-old rock suggests life began soon after Earth’s formation
Facebook will target advertising to Whatsapp users but will steer clear of third party advertising content
The global seed giant Monsanto is pulling its application to introduce GMO cotton seed after a row with the Indian government, which is demanding the company share its technology with local seed companies.
Proxima b could be visited by spacecraft within next 100 years
According to Space X, the rocket “will be subject to extreme velocities and re-entry heating,” and is part of an ongoing effort to reuse rocket parts
Flaming blue fire vortexes could be used to clean up oil spills at sea
$4.8bn Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam prompting fears in Cairo that water could be cut off from downstream Nile nations
Israeli military concerned game could lead to locations and images of military bases being leaked
AG600 developed for use in emergency operations has max cruising speed of 500 km per hour, max flight range of 4,500 km
Vast quantities of rare gas hint at Earth’s past, could power planet’s future
Global temperatures at record highs; Arctic sea ice levels at record lows
23-year-old researcher to create computer models of brain structures in world's largest particle physics laboratory