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Last Updated: Friday, 25 February, 2005, 09:16 GMT
Forest fires spread in Malaysia
By Jonathan Kent
BBC, Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur Telekom Tower is seen covered with haze caused by forest fires near Kuala Lumpur Friday, Feb. 25, 2005
Kuala Lumpur's skyscrapers are shrouded in haze
Malaysia's emergency services are tackling hundreds of fires that have sprung up across the country following a prolonged dry spell.

Kuala Lumpur has been blanketed in haze - and visibility at the city's international airport is reported to have dropped to 2 km (1.2 miles).

More than 2,000 firefighters are trying to put out flames in six states.

The city's gleaming skyscrapers are slowly disappearing into an impenetrable fug.

Even in the middle distance the colour has been sucked from the trees and the buildings are becoming indistinct.

Though the air quality has dropped, the government is giving no details.

The haze is being blamed on hundreds of forest fires burning across the states of Perak, Pahang, Johor, Kelantan and Kedah, but the worst affected is Selangor, which surrounds the capital.

In some cases the fires have taken hold in the peat soil and are proving particularly hard to put out.

Extra firefighters have been drafted in from outside the affected areas, and in recent days aircraft have been deployed to drop water.

Malaysia's weather forecasters say is there not likely to be any immediate let-up in the long dry spell that has helped the fires to take hold.

On Sunday the northern city of Alor Star saw temperatures of 38.3C, the second highest on record for the nation.

The haze is not yet as bad as that which blanketed the country in 1997 and 1998.

Then the drop in air quality was caused by forest burning in neighbouring Sumatra and Indonesian Borneo, and visitors to Kuala Lumpur reported being unable to see buildings on the far side of the highway.

Asian haze poses 'widespread threat'
11 Aug 02 |  Science/Nature

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