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Indonesian forest fires caused flights delays in Malaysia

Christian Fernsby |
Smog caused by forest fire smoke in Indonesia caused delays to several flights at Sultan Azlan Shah Airport in the northern Malaysian state of Perak.

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Air terminal manager Mohd Ali Osman told Bernama news agency that 549 passengers were stranded because visibility dropped and many operations were interrupted, while other flights were diverted to different airports in the country.

According to Malaysia's Air Pollutant Index Management System, the environment has been unhealthy in at least five of the country's states for several days.

The authorities announced earlier this week that they would hand out 500,000 masks to residents in the state of Sarawak and temporarily close hundreds of schools, affecting more than 150,000 students.

In order to mitigate the consequences of toxic smog, the Malaysian government plans to 'sow clouds' to cause rain, using special chemicals spread from airplanes.

Malaysia, through a letter from its Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamad, offered to help fight fires in Indonesian forests, which began at the start of the dry season in June and worsened earlier this month.

Nearly half a million hectares of forests have been damaged in Indonesia due to fires that began in June.

According to a statement from Indonesia's National Agency for Disaster Management (BNPB), about a quarter of the burned territory is rich in carbon because it is home to primary forests and peat.

The most affected regions are Riau, Jambi and South Sumatra, on Sumatra island, and Southern Borneo, Western Borneo and Central Borneo, in Borneo.

In the provincial capital of Riau, smoke forced the diversion and delay of flights to Pekanbaru, the major city in that territory, this Friday.

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