Tue, Oct 17, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Singapore's health advisory for haze to continue: EPA

AFP , SINGAPORE

Singapore announced the continuation yesterday of a health advisory issued over the weekend as the city-state remained shrouded in haze from forest fires in neighboring Indonesia.

"Persons with existing heart or respiratory ailments should reduce physical exertion and outdoor activity. The general population should reduce vigorous outdoor activity," Singapore's National Environment Agency said on its Web site.

`Moderate'

Singapore's pollution index hit 88 at 10am yesterday, up from 86 four hours earlier. The index is now considered within a "moderate" range after hitting unhealthy levels of 100-plus on Saturday.

The haze, which has affected Singapore and other parts of Southeast Asia, carries a burning smell with it.

Indonesia's annual burn-off to clear land for agriculture causes haze that typically smothers parts of Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand this time of year.

Praying for rain

Indonesia itself is also affected and some residents in haze-smothered areas have resorted to praying for rain to alleviate the smog.

Indonesia's government has outlawed clearing land by fire but weak enforcement means the ban is largely ignored.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono apologized to Singapore and Malaysia over the haze on Thursday.

A Singapore academic said on Friday the haze from Indonesia could have caused about S$50 million in losses to the the country's economy over the month.

Extrapolation

Euston Quah, the head of economics at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, said his estimate was extrapolated from a detailed study he made in 1997 when the annual haze problem was at its worst.

Environmental ministers from Singapore, Malaysia and other regional nations affected by the haze met on Friday in Indonesia in order to search for ways of combating the annual problem, which disrupts transportation and leads to health problems.

The ministers told their host to promptly ratify a regional treaty on preventing cross-border haze pollution.

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