Haze hits Malaysia again; fewer hot spots this time

Haze hits Malaysia again; fewer hot spots this time
A blanket of haze covering Penang Bridge at 9am on Wednesday. Indonesia has vowed to keep up efforts to douse fires in Sumatra.

MALAYSIA - Parts of Malaysia are again shrouded in haze, although Indonesia is reporting a decline in the illegal burning that causes it.

The number of hot spots in Sumatra plunged to 99 on Wednesday from 308 on Tuesday, but smoke from the earlier fires lingered.

As a result, the air quality in northern states in Malaysia such as Kedah spiked at an unhealthy 104 on the Air Pollutant Index.

Perlis, Penang and Langkawi also suffered although their levels remained moderate.

Singapore's air quality was "Good", or under 50 on its Pollutant Standards Index, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said. Though Singapore this time has been spared a choking blanket of haze, the situation could get worse in the next few days if the wind direction changes, said weathermen.

The return of the haze over the weekend comes even though the hot, dry season in Sumatra is not expected to peak until October.

Indonesian officials vowed not to let up in their water bombing and firefighting efforts.

"Part of the reason the hot spots have come down is due to our water bombing sorties and land operations to douse fires," said Mr Said Saqlul Amri, chief of the disaster management agency in Riau.

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