Haze disrupts Kuching flights


KUCHING - The haze is so thick in southern Sarawak that several flight landings have been disrupted.

A Malaysia Airlines flight to Kuching from Kuala Lumpur aborted its first landing attempt due to the low visibility yesterday.

The airline confirmed this to The Star but said the second attempt was successful.

"MH2504 executed a go around due to poor visibility during the approach to land at Kuching airport," the airline said in a brief statement.

Disrupted flight landings were also reported at Kuching airport last week.

Despite the heavy rain on Monday evening, the haze did not clear.

Overnight, visibility worsened from 1.5km to just 1km yesterday morning. By 4pm, visibility was only 500m.

All of the state capital was enveloped in a thick haze.

The Air Pollutant Index for the city hovered in the high 90s throughout the afternoon, while it was 103 at Samarahan, a suburb about 10km away.

API readings of between 0 and 50 indicate good air quality; 51 and 100 (moderate), 101 and 200 (unhealthy), 201 and 300 (very unhealthy) and over 301 (hazardous).

The Singapore-based ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC) has elevated Kalimantan (which borders Sarawak and Sabah) to alert level three, the most severe.

Since last week, Sumatra has also been at level three.

It said the current dry weather conditions over Borneo island was expected to continue.

Under the prevailing wind conditions, transboundary smoke haze could continue to spread to Sarawak and other parts of the region, the centre warned.

In Kota Kinabalu, parts of Sabah have been enveloped in moderate haze since Tuesday, with visibility being reduced to 4km in the east coast Tawau district.

Sabah Meteorological Services Department director Abdul Malik Tussin said the visibility in Tawau however improved to 7km on Wednesday.

The state's west coast including Kota Kinabalu was also shrouded in haze yesterday with visibility reduced to 8km.

Abdul Malik noted that haze conditions were better in Sabah than other parts of Borneo with visibility being reduced to 1km in Kuching and 2km in Brunei.