Singapore chokes on smoke haze blown from Indonesia


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Normally clear-skied Singapore is choking on a dangerous haze which citizens say smells strongly of burning wood.

Reuters reports: “Haze from fires in Indonesia blanketing Singapore could persist for weeks or longer, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Thursday, as the smoke drove air quality to ‘hazardous’ levels and disrupted business and travel in the region. “Illegal burning of forests and other land on Indonesia's Sumatra island to clear space for palm oil plantations is a chronic problem during the June to September dry season.

“One Indonesian minister accused Singaporeans of acting like children, but pollution levels in the normally pristine city-state have shattered records set in 1997, raising diplomatic tensions and concerns about the economic impact. “‘It can easily last for several weeks and quite possibly longer until the dry season ends in Sumatra,’ Lee told a news conference, warning of action if Singapore-linked companies were behind the burning. ‘On the scale of it, it's unlikely to be just small stakeholders slashing and burning.’

“On the fourth day of heavy smog, the smell of burned wood filled the air, skyscrapers were barely visible and haze hung in the tunnels that link Singapore's metro stations and shopping malls in the central core. Some residents wore surgical masks or covered their faces with hankerchiefs when they walked outside.”
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