The Star, 16 March 2014
PETALING JAYA: Strong winds and swift-moving rain clouds helped clear the sky stricken by haze in parts of peninsular Malaysia, said the Meteorological Department.
A spokesman said rainfall had started in the morning over several areas in the east coast before moving gradually to northern and central states by evening.
In addition, he said strong northeasterly winds had also helped disperse the haze particles, which had caused air quality in Port Klang and Banting to reach hazardous levels on Friday.
“We recorded rain clouds moving across Selangor and the Klang Valley, bringing brief and moderate rainfall over several areas. Parts of Negri Sembilan and Malacca also experienced isolated showers,” he said when contacted yesterday.
However, he said that the rain clouds had been blown out to the Straits of Malacca before they could bring significant rainfall over Johor.
He said that visibility had also improved significantly.
As of 5pm yesterday, the Department of Environment’s Air Pollutant Index (API) showed no places in Malaysia were experiencing hazardous air quality.
Three places recorded unhealthy air quality: Port Klang (124), Banting (103) and Tanjung Malim (123).
An API reading 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.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri G. Palanivel said on Friday that the DOE’s ban on open burning was now extended to Negri Sembilan, Malacca, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya effective March 13.
“No open burning can be done in these areas except for certain activities such as cremation, for religious purposes and barbecues. Those caught carrying out open burning can be fined not more than RM500,000, jailed not more than five years or both,” he said, adding that a maximum compound of RM2,000 could also be imposed for each offence.
Meanwhile, AirAsia cancelled all flights to and from Pekanbaru until Wednesday due to low visibility caused by the severe haze.
It said in a statement that flights were expected to resume on Thursday, depending on how much visibility improved.
The AirAsia flights affected by the cancellations are Kuala Lumpur-Pekanbaru, Pekanbaru-Kuala Lumpur, Pekanbaru-Bandung, Bandung-Pekanbaru, Pekanbaru-Medan and Medan-Pekanbaru.
Affected passengers can choose one of two service recovery options: 1) Changing their flight departure date within seven days of the original date without additional charges and 2) use a credit shell equivalent to the value of the confirmed booking for any AirAsia flight, valid for three months from the date of issue.
“All affected guests will be notified via their registered member e-mail account as well as an SMS notification of the cancellations. We urge all guests to keep their e-mail address and mobile numbers with their country code prefix updated in their AirAsia member profiles,” it said.