SRI Aman in Sarawak continues to register hazardous air quality with a reading of 411 on the air pollutant index (API), making it dangerously close to becoming the first area to be declared an emergency area.

The National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) had said that the agency is prepared to execute the National Haze Action Plan if the API breaches the 500 mark.

An API reading of 0-50 indicates good air quality, followed by moderate (51-100), unhealthy (101-200), very unhealthy (201-300) and hazardous (300 and above).

At 8am today, Sri Aman’s API stood at 402, following peat fire which the Fire and Rescue Department has been struggling to douse for at least three days.

The situation worsened this afternoon.

Nadma director-general Mohtar Mohd Abd Rahman told Bernama that it will immediately notify Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who is the chairman of the Central Disaster Committee, if conditions worsen.

“It allows the government to declare emergencies in the affected areas, and when implemented, the central, state and district disaster committees must comply with the guidelines set out under the National Action Plan,” he said.

Raging blazes in Indonesia have been spewing toxic smoke over Malaysia and Singapore with Jakarta deploying security forces and water-bombing aircraft to tackle them.

The fires are an annual problem during the dry season when farmers use illegal slash-and-burn techniques to clear land for agriculture, but this year’s are the worst since 2015.

Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin said in a Facebook post today that cloud-seeding operations will be conducted for the fourth time in Sarawak this afternoon.

The operation is being jointly conducted by the Meteorological Department, Nadma and the Royal Malaysian Air Force, from the Kuching Air Base.

“The government will continue to conduct cloud-seeding operations both in the peninsula or Sabah and Sarawak if the cloud conditions are appropriate,” said Yeo.

Three other areas in Sarawak – Kuching, (239) Sarikei (217) and Samarahan(212) – recorded very unhealthy air quality.

Elsewhere, 17 areas nationwide trended in the unhealthy zone while 47 experienced moderate air quality.

– https://www.themalaysianinsight.com