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As of 3pm, two areas in Sarawak registered “very unhealthy” Air Pollutant Index (API) readings – Sri Aman at 241 and Kuching at 224.NSTP/L.MANIMARAN

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Meteorological Department (MetMalaysia) is in standby mode to conduct cloud seeding operations to ease the worsening haze situation across the country.

However, its director-general, Jailan Simon, said that they must wait for atmospheric suitability before attempting the operations.

“At the moment, atmospheric conditions in (the worst-affected areas) are not suitable for the operation. (If we proceed now, the operation) is unlikely to succeed.

“(Also), the cost of cloud seeding is high, (so we must be careful to carry out the operation when the situation) is most favourable,” he told the New Straits Times today.

Nevertheless, Jailan warned that cloud seeding would have limited effect in mitigating the haze unless the forest fires raging in Sumatra and Kalimantan in Indonesia are brought under control.

“The winds are still blowing from the southwest (from Sumatra, and the east from Kalimantan). Even if cloud seeding is done, the haze will come back if fires persist in Sumatra and southern Kalimantan.

“(We must therefore wait for the arrival of) the southwest monsoon, which is expected in late September or early October,” he added.

There may be a brief respite in the short term.

“(There has been a drop in the number of) hotspots in Kalimantan. There are 446 today, compared to 704 detected on Saturday. The number of hotspots in Sumatra also dropped from 68 to 52 (so that is good news),” Jailan said.

He added that there are also three hotspots in Peninsular Malaysia and a total of 39 hotspots in Sabah and Sarawak.

As of 3pm, two areas in Sarawak registered “very unhealthy” Air Pollutant Index (API) readings – Sri Aman at 241 and Kuching at 224.

“Unhealthy” APIs were recorded in eight locations nationwide. They are Selangor (Johan Setia Klang - 125); and Sarawak (Miri – 158; Mukah – 115; Sibu – 190; Sarikei – 183; Samarahan – 199; and Kuala Baram – 120).

An API of 0 to 50 is categorised as ‘good’, ‘moderate’ (51-100), ‘unhealthy’ (101-200), ‘very unhealthy’ (201-300) and ‘hazardous’ (301 and more).

Meanwhile, according to the Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC), the haze will persist over the next few days as dry conditions continue to affect many locations in the region.

“In Sumatra, we continue to observe moderate-to-dense smoke from hotspots in the provinces of Riau, Jambi, and South Sumatra. Prevailing winds have been blowing some of the smoke… toward the Strait of Melaka.

“In West Kalimantan, scattered hotspots continue to emit moderate-to-dense smoke, which has been blown by prevailing winds towards western Sarawak,” it said.

For the latest information on the haze situation, visit the Department of Environment’s (DoE) website at http://apims.doe.gov.my/v2/ or download the MyIPU mobile application.

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