KUALA LUMPUR • A 23-year-old trainee policeman died yesterday of heatstroke, becoming the first victim of soaring temperatures and the dry spell in Malaysia that has delayed the rice-planting season by a month.
There were seven other cases of heat exhaustion being treated at hospitals across the country, Health Minister S. Subramaniam was quoted as saying by state news agency Bernama on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said yesterday that schools in areas where the temperature hits 37 deg C and above for more than three days will be ordered to close.
And the government will declare a "heatwave emergency" if the temperature in an area exceeds 40 deg C for seven days.
Dr Subramaniam said that the trainee policeman, Mr Azizan Ayob, was training at an indoor field track in Segamat, Johor, when the heat caused him to pass out, Bernama reported.
"A male trainee policeman at the Segamat Police Training Centre became the first victim to die of heatstroke," he told a news conference.
According to the hospital report, the victim died as a result of dehydration which caused the blood to become over-concentrated and tissues to be deprived of oxygen.
The minister advised the public to drink an adequate amount of water, limit strenuous outdoor activities, wear light clothing and stay in places with sufficient ventilation.
He also instructed government agencies such as the police, the military and the Sports and Youth Ministry to reduce activities, including marathons and intense physical exercises, during the extreme hot weather.
The El Nino phenomenon has caused temperatures to reach 38.5 deg C in six areas in the north including in Perlis, Kedah and Perak.
Padi farmers in the "rice bowl" states of Kedah and Perlis have been told by the authorities to wait another month before they start planting their crops as there is not enough water in the dams to channel to the padi fields, The Star reported.
Meanwhile in Thailand, which is also hit by extreme dry weather, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha was to visit the north-eastern province of Udon Thani yesterday to assess the drought situation, Thai media reported.