Indonesian haze closes schools, sparks fears for Singapore F1

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) – Toxic haze from Indonesian forest fires closed thousands of schools across the country and in neighbouring Malaysia yesterday, while air quality worsened in Singapore just days before the city’s Formula One motor race.

Illegal fires to clear land for agriculture are blazing out of control on Sumatra and Borneo islands, with Jakarta deploying thousands of security forces and water-bombing aircraft to tackle them.

The Indonesian blazes are an annual problem, but this year’s are the worst since 2015 and have added to concerns about wildfire outbreaks worldwide exacerbating global warming. Nearly 1,500 schools were closed across Malaysia due to the air pollution, with over one million pupils affected, according to the Education Ministry.

The two worst-affected states were Selangor, outside Kuala Lumpur, where 538 schools were closed, and Sarawak on Borneo, with 337 closures. Hundreds of schools in several other states in peninsular Malaysia were also affected.