Haze crisis over Malaysia prompts talks with Indonesia

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Thursday, August 11, 2005

Haze over Kuala Lumpur

A week-long choking smog-like haze over Malaysia has prompted crisis talks with Indonesia. Lingering smoke from forest fires on the Indonesian island of Sumatra are the primary cause. Farmers regularly burn scrub and forest to clear land during the dry season, but this is the worst haze since 1997.

Air quality in the Malaysian capital city of Kuala Lumpur is so poor, health officials are advising citizens to stay at home with doors closed. Some schools have been closed to keep children from being exposed to the haze. Schools that chose to remain open are keeping children indoors and require them to wear protective masks when they are forced to venture outdoors.

Kuala Lumpur International Airport was unaffected but smaller flights from Subang airport were suspended.

Malaysia's Environment Minister, Adenan Satem, and Commodities Minister, Peter Chin, will meet with Indonesia's forestry minister and officials from its environment ministry in Medan, according to Malaysian media. Malaysia has offered to send firefighters to fight the forest and scrub fires estimated at numbering more than 300.

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