Malaysia: Battling 276 fires on equinox day

The Star 22 Mar 16;

KUALA LUMPUR: On the day of the equinox, firemen were kept busy trying to put out as many as 276 fires due to the heatwave.

The Fire and Rescue Department said it detected 10 major hotspots, all in Pahang and Sabah.

“It was not as bad as February 2014 when we were getting over 1,000 cases a day,” said Fire and Rescue Department deputy director-general (operations) Datuk Soiman Jahid.

Pahang recorded a hotspot in Pekan and three in Temerloh. There were five hotspots in Pedalaman and one in Sandakan, Sabah.

Soiman said the size of these hotspots were still unclear but said they were detectable by satellites.

He said firemen were called to extinguish 298 fires on Saturday and 276 fires on Sunday.

Perak, Kedah, Sabah and Penang were the most “combustible” states over the weekend, accounting for 51% or 294 fire cases, he said.

He said not a single fire was reported in Kuala Lumpur.

Bush and forest fires made up the most number of cases. There were 210 bush fires and 26 forest fires on Saturday, with all the forest fires located in Sabah.

On Sunday, there were 246 bush fires while the Sabah forest fires were all extinguished, with no new cases. As of 2pm yesterday, most parts of peninsular Malaysia’s west coast recorded moderate air pollutant index readings while Banting recorded an unhealthy reading of 110.

Most parts of the peninsula’s east coast and Sabah and Sarawak recorded healthy API readings.

Malaysia is now experiencing hot and dry weather caused by the El Nino phenomenon and the Malay­sian Meteorological Department has predicted that the situation will only end in May or June.

A sweltering 37°C in four states
The Star 22 Mar 16;

PETALING JAYA: Perlis and Sabah remain among the hottest states in the country, with Pahang and Penang joining them as the places with 37°C temperatures.

In a statement issued by the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry, Batu Embun (Pahang), Chuping (Perlis), Kenin­gau (Sabah) and Prai (Penang) recorded the highest temperatures as of 4pm yesterday.

Temerloh (Pahang), Lubok Mer­bau (Perak), Ipoh (Perak), Kuala Krai (Kelantan) and Alor Setar (Kedah) were hot as well with a recorded temperature of 36°C.

Minister Datuk Seri Madius Tangau said the sweltering situation is expected to repeat today.

“The haze situation also happened because of the heatwave and human activities such as industry, motorised vehicles and agriculture waste burning.

“Therefore, the public is advised not to do any open burning, especially that involves camping. The public is also advised to limit outdoor activities, especially in the evening,” he said in the state-ment.

A technical committee handling the El Nino and heatwave phe-nomenon had also agreed on the heatwave definition used by the Meteorological Department (MetMalaysia).

MetMalaysia has defined the heatwave in four stages; Level 0 (Observation) below 35°C; Level 1 (Caution) between 35°C and 37°C for three days in a row; Level 2 (Heatwave) over 37°C for three days in a row; and Level 3 (Emergency) over 40°C for three days in a row. Schools will closed from Level 2 onwards.

Seremban enveloped by haze, registers unhealthy API reading
NUR AQIDAH AZIZI & TEOH PEI YING New Straits Times 21 Mar 16;

SEREMBAN: As Malaysians wilt under the scorching sun, the air quality here has turned ‘unhealthy’, registering a reading of 104 on the air pollutant index as of 4pm today.

The air quality in Nilai hovered at the ‘unhealthy’ range, with an API reading of 94.

An hour before that, Nilai recorded an API reading of 115. An API reading of between 0 and 50 is considered good, 51 to 100 (moderate), 101 to 200 (unhealthy), 201 to 300 (very unhealthy), and 301 and above (hazardous).

Efforts to obtain information on the probable cause of the haze were unsuccessful at press time.

A heat wave is currently sweeping the country, with temperatures reaching the high 30s in the northern states of Kedah and Perlis.

This has raised fears of bush fires breaking out, with the resulting smoke leading to a return of the haze.

For the latest air quality readings, the public can visit

'Heat Wave' Definition Agreed To - MOSTI
Bernama 21 Mar 16;

Datuk Seri Madius Tangau (Bernama file photo)KUALA LUMPUR, March 21 (Bernama) -- The Meeting of the Technical Committee Tackling the El-Nino and Dry Weather today agreed on the definition of heatwave used by the Meteorological Department that is Level 0: Weather below 35C (Monitoring); and Level 1: Maximum temperature between 35C to 37C for three days consecutively (Alert level).

The Minister of Science, Technology and Innovations (MOSTI) Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau said in a statement today that for Level 2 : the maximum temperature exceeds 37C for three days consecutively (declaration of heatwave by MOSTI for other parties to take subsequent action such as the closure of schools and so on); and Level 3 : Temperature exceeds 40C for three days consecutively (Disclosure to the National Disaster Management Agency (NADMA) and the Prime Minister will declare a state of emergency).

He said the latest weather monitoring by MetMalaysia today as at 4.00 pm in nine locations were Batu Embun, Pahang (37.0C); Chuping, Perlis (37.0C); Keningau, Sabah (37.0C) ; Prai, Penang (37.0C) and Temerloh, Pahang (36.0C).

Meanwhile in Lubok Merbau, Perak (36.0C); Ipoh, Perak (36.0C); Kuala Krai, Kelantan (36.0C); and Alor Setar, Kedah (36.0C).

He said a similar situation was also expected for tomorrow (March 22).

Local haze would also occur due to the hot weather and human activities such as industry, motor vehicles and burning of agricultural waste.

"As such, members of the public are advised against carrying out open burning especially involving camping activities. At the same time, the public are advised to limit outdoor activities during the hot weather especially in the afternoon," he said.


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