4 times as many hotspots in Sumatra now

KUALA LUMPUR - In just one week, the number of hots spot in Sumatra, Indonesia, has more than quadrupled from 46 to 187. With the westerly wind during the south west monsoon season, the haze situation looks set to worsen in Malaysia.

According to the Meteorological Department, the south west monsoon season, forecast to last until September, was expected to bring drier and hotter days with occasional thunderstorms in the evenings.

The department also predicted that there would be less rainfall during the period, which could again worsen the situation.

Meanwhile, the Department of Environment website has identified Johor as the most affected by haze, with Pasir Gudang (148), Larkin Lama (122), and Kota Tinggi (126) all in the unhealthy bracket.

The Air Pollutant Index rating is measured as follows: good (0-50), moderate (51-100), unhealthy (101-200), very unhealthy (201-300) and hazardous (above 300).

Transboundary haze from land and forest fires during the traditional dry period during the west monsoon season has been a recurrent feature in the South East Asia region in the past few decades.

As of yesterday, satellite images from the ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre revealed that there were 187 hot spots in Sumatra.

The temperature in the country is expected to rise to between 34°C and 36°C during the period with the urban areas feeling more of the heat because of buildings and the lack of surrounding greenery.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who is concerned with the current haze situation, has advised the public to reduce outdoor activities and drink lots of water.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri G. Palanivel said he would chair a meeting on Aug 20 with his counterparts from Indonesia, Brunei, Singapore, and Thailand to discuss the matter.

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