From: Associated Press
Published March 25, 2005 12:00 AM

Singapore Advises Citizens to Stay Indoors from Haze Caused by Indonesian, Malaysian Fires

SINGAPORE — Singapore advised citizens with respiratory ailments to stay indoors Friday as its air-quality index hovered near unhealthy levels because of fires raging in neighboring Indonesia and Malaysia.


"The prevailing winds are blowing some smoke haze from hot spots from Peninsular Malaysia and Sumatra. Locally, there have also been some bush fires that are contributing to the haziness," the National Environment Agency said on its Web site.


Singapore's Pollutants Standards Index marks 100 as its "unhealthy" level. It reached 95 Thursday and stood at 81 midmorning Friday.


The government was "advising people with heart or respiratory ailments to reduce physical exertion and outdoor activity," the agency said, adding that haze will hover over the country for the next few days.


In 1997-98, fires set mainly on oil palm plantations and farms in Indonesia's Sumatra and Kalimantan provinces burned out of control for weeks, destroying 10 million hectares (25 million acres), and blanketing Singapore and parts of Malaysia and Indonesia with thick smoke.


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Economic losses from those fires topped US$9.3 billion and prompted a 2002 agreement among six of the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations members to fight fire pollution. Indonesia has yet to ratify the deal.


Source: Associated Press


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