Showers to ease arid weather conditions in several hazy states

PETALING JAYA - Rainfall is expected over several states in the next few days, which will hopefully help to clear up the hazy skies.

According to the Department of Environment (DOE), rain should fall over Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Perak, Kedah, Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang.

"This weather condition is expected to help dispel the haze the country is experiencing," it said in a statement here yesterday.

As at 5pm, the Air Pollutant Index readings showed slightly improved air quality, with just Seri Manjung in Perak recording an unhealthy level.

However, the number of hotspots in Sumatra are still on the rise, with the ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre's hotspot map displaying 292 hotspots yesterday, up from 252 on Monday.

In Malaysia, 27 hotspots were detected - seven each in Johor and Pahang, two in Negri Sembilan and 11 in Sarawak.

"Site investigations and enforcement action will be taken for each of the hotspots detected," it said.

Indonesian authorities have begun cloud seeding efforts to induce rain over Riau province, which is currently engulfed in choking smog believed to be from resumed land and forest burnings.

The haze returned after the number of hotspots in Sumatra rose drastically from three last Thursday to 159 on Saturday.

However, Malaysia is not as badly affected this time around due to lighter wind patterns resulting in the haze spreading much slower.

Last month, thick haze enveloped parts of the peninsula and Singapore - aided by forest fires and strong winds - with air quality in several areas reaching hazardous levels.

In Ipoh, the API reading in Seri Manjung was at 120 as at 3pm.

State Department of Environment director Abdul Razak Abdul Manap said the northwards wind was bringing the haze into that part of Perak and affecting the air quality.

His officers, he said, had been instructed to carry out ground surveillance for any open burning as well as via the satellite to detect any hotspot.

"Once we have detected the locations, the Fire and Rescue Department will be called in to assist in putting out the fires," he said.

Meanwhile, a fire at the Tanjung Tualang landfill near Batu Gajah since Tuesday had worsened the air quality there, with billowing smoke covering the 4ha site.

Fire and Rescue Department's Operations chief Halid Md Zin said 14 firemen had the fire under control within 20 minutes but it took them nine hours to completely put out the blaze.

"We are still determining the cause of the fire," he said, urging the public not to encroach into the site to carry out open burning.

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