Malaysia, Penang: The haze is back

Hafiz Marzukhi The Star 16 Jun 11;

PENANGITES woke up to face the haze again which caused poor visibility on the island and mainland with several landmarks disappearing from view until a downpour at about 11.30am helped improve the condition.

Buildings such as the Komtar tower, the Penang Bridge and several buildings on the mainland were not clearly visible to motorists.

However, Penangites were relieved when a downpour which started at about 11.30am and lasted until about 2pm, helped improve visibility although several parts of the island and mainland were hit by flashfoods.

Strong winds and the storm also hit Kedah which resulted in houses being damaged.

A Malaysian Meteorological Department (Bayan Lepas) spokesman said the south and south-west winds probably helped blow the haze in from central Sumatra.

She said the satellite had picked up 34 hotspots in central Sumatra the night before yesterday.

The spokesman however said she could not confirm if the hotspots were due to forest fires in Sumatra.

“The source of the haze could be localised but all we can say for now is that most parts of peninsular Malaysia are experiencing the haze,” she added.

Visibility level on the island was 6km in the morning before it improved to 8km at about 2pm just after the heavy rains.

On the mainland, the visibility level was at 4km at 8am but this improved to 7km by 3pm.

Penang Department of Environment (DOE) recorded the Air Pollutant Index (API) readings at a moderate level (51 to 100) on the island (55), Prai (61) and Seberang Jaya (72) at 11am.

A check at 5pm showed improved readings on the island (54), Prai (60) and Seberang Jaya (71).

The API for unhealthy air quality is between 101 to 200 and above 301 is hazardous.

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