Malaysia: Haze caused by peat fire adds to Sabah’s hardship

The Star 1 Apr 16;

KOTA KINABALU: A fast spreading peat fire in the Binsuluk Forest Reserve area in south-west Sabah has caused haze to blanket parts of the state’s west coast.

This is in addition to the dry spell that has already caused hardship in many parts of the state.

Sabah Fire and Rescue Services Department director Nordin Pauzi said some 100 firemen have been sent to the Binsuluk area, about 130km from here, to put out the peat fires that have already spread into the forest reserves.

Efforts have been ongoing to control the peat fire since early March after it was spotted in areas close to the reserve.

Apart from that Binsuluk peat fire, he said firemen were also attending to over a hundred distress calls in the state.

The haze caused visibility in the Kota Kinabalu area to drop to three kilometres while Labuan recorded eight kilometres. Other areas like Sandakan, Kudat and Tawau recorded more than 10km visibility. No flights were disrupted.

Sabah Meteorological Depart­ment acting director Lim Ze Hui said five localised hot spots in Beaufort, Bongawan (Klias peninsula) and Kota Belud were spotted since late Wednesday.

He added that they did not expect any immediate rain in the west coast of the state though there have been isolated showers in Sandakan.

Sabah’s dry spell since early February has affected traditional water sources from streams, wells and gravity water feeds.


Firefighters put out fire at Gunung Korbu
RAJA KHALIDATUL ASRIN New Straits Times 31 Mar 16;

SUNGAI SIPUT: Firefighters managed to put out forest fires at the Gunung Korbu forest reserve with the help of plantation workers and forestry staff about 6pm today.

State Fire and Rescue Department spokesman said the fires occurred at several spots and had affected more than eight hectares of the forest reserve on the foot of Gunung Korbu, the second highest mountain in Peninsular Malaysia.

He said the department had dispatched 16 firefighters to the scene after they received information on the forest fire on Tuesday.

"We received help from 10 forestry staff and seven plantation workers to control and put out the fire using jet shooters and fire beaters apart from digging fire breakers in the affected areas," he said here today.

He said the team was led by Fire and Rescue Department officer Ruhisa Harris.


Inter-monsoon season expected to bring respite from heat
The Star 1 Apr 16;

PETALING JAYA: Inter-monsoon rains expected this month will provide a much-needed respite from the heatwave.

A Meteorological Depart­ment official said the wet weather should help lessen the El Nino effect.

“It is a misconception that the hot spell will go on until the middle of the year,” said the official who declined to be identified.

When the rains start, however, would depend on wind conditions, he said.

The heatwave continues to broil Chuping in Perlis and Alor Setar, Kedah, in the north, with temperatures recorded there yesterday at 38.6°C and 37.9°C, respectively.

Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Seri Madius Tangau said most west coast states in peninsular Malaysia also recorded high temperatures.

Langkawi holds the record, having had no rain for the past 45 days, he said. This is followed by Arau (Perlis), 40 days; and Seberang Prai Tengah (Penang), 31 days.

National Water Services Commission (SPAN) chairman Datuk Ismail Kasim said water supply was dwindling in parts of Pahang, Kedah and Perak.

“El Nino can lead to reduced rainfall of between 20% and 60%,” he said in a statement yesterday, adding that this has led to a significant drop in river and dam levels.

Reduced water levels in Sungai Pahang have led to a 10% reduction at the Lubok Kawah treatment plant. The Jelai and Batu 9 treatment plants in that state were also down by 15% and 33%, respectively.

Ismail said more than 6,000 consumer accounts in Lipis and Batu 9 Halt were also affected.

In Kedah, three plants – in Lubuk Tupah, Merbok and Gurun – had to reduce their supply of treated water by between 50% and 69%.

According to Ismail, Syarikat Air Darul Aman was channelling water from treatment plants in other states to make up the deficit.

In Perak, the Taiping Headworks treatment plant had to cut supply by 43%.

Ismail called on the people to be “prudent in their use of water”.


Illnesses on the rise as heatwave takes down more people
The Star 1 Apr 16;

KUALA LUMPUR: The extremely hot weather is taking its toll on the people, with the number suffering from heat-related illnesses doubling in the last two weeks.

“Don’t mess with the heat. If people have a heat-related illness, they must seek treatment from a doctor quickly. Patients can die from heatstroke,” said Hospital Kuala Lumpur Emergency Department head Datuk Seri Prof Dr Abu Hassan Asaari Abdullah.

The number of people with heat illnesses increased from 14 in mid-March to between 25 and 30 yesterday, he added, after the launch of the first National Continuous Medical Education/Continuous Professional Development Conference 2016 yesterday.

The event was launched by Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya.

Dr Abu Hassan said those who suffered from heat exhaustion comprised mainly police and military personnel, security guards and construction workers.

“We advise that they reduce their exposure to the sun and drink more water,” he said.

Signs of heat illness include a rapid heart rate, weak pulse and cramps. A body temperature of above 39°C can lead to heat exhaustion and subsequently, within an hour or two, a heatstroke.

In an interview with The Star, Dr Abu Hassan said the heat could also aggravate the condition of patients with illnesses like diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, cancer, and respiratory conditions such as asthma and bronchitis.

He added that those below the age of five and above 60 were also in the high-risk group for heat illness.

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