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Last Updated: Saturday, 3 July, 2004, 07:24 GMT 08:24 UK
Lonely women pester Malaysia firemen
By Jonathan Kent
BBC correspondent in Kuala Lumpur

Malay firemen
Malaysia's firemen have been setting lonely hearts alight
The enduring sex appeal of firefighters is causing problems for Malaysia's emergency services.

The country's head of civil defence says 97% of calls to the emergency number are either hoaxes or non-urgent.

Many of the calls, Jamal Arafin said, were from lonely women who had decided to dial a hunk.

He said the problem was worst in the east coast town of Kuala Terengganu - and said calls to the 991 number would be recorded to deter time-wasters.

Last year the Malaysian government announced that only one in 200 calls made to the police emergency line was genuine.

Now it has emerged that the country's civil defence forces have the same problem.

They are supposed to co-ordinate the response to fires, accidents and medical emergencies, but appear to spend most of their time dealing with hoaxes or time-wasters.

Mr Arafin, who heads the department, said many were lonely women who simply liked chatting to his staff.

The department also reported that when female staff were taking calls they were inundated with men wanting to report emergencies of a different kind.

What kind of emergency that might be was not specified.



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