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Haze update: Mourners don masks at outdoor funeral, says Singaporean in Muar

Published on Jun 23, 2013 9:37 PM
 
Muar river is seen covered with haze in Malaysia's town of Muar, in the southern state of Johor on June 23, 2013. Mourners in Muar had to bid farewell to their loved ones with their surgical masks on, as the air pollutant index hit its all-time high at 750 this morning, said a Singaporean who was in the northern Johor town for his aunt’s funeral. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

MOURNERS in Muar had to bid farewell to their loved ones with their surgical masks on, as Malaysia's Air Pollutant Index (API) hit 746 this morning, said a Singaporean who was in the northern Johor town for his aunt’s funeral.

Mr Ow Yong Weng Fai, 34, said all who were at the outdoor funeral, except the Taoist monks performing funeral rites, had their masks on to protect themselves from the haze.

His aunt’s funeral was held on the rooftop of a three-storey building at Jalan Bantayan, an area similar to Singapore’s Sin Ming Avenue, where many funeral parlours set up shop next to each other in a cluster.

"The haze is bad, but the funeral can't be called off,” said Mr Ow Yong, a financial adviser.

Mr Ow Yong left Singapore for Muar yesterday afternoon, just as the air quality here started improving since the onset of the haze on June 14.

He said visibility got poorer as his cab went further north on the Malaysian North-South Expressway. When he was nearing Muar after a three-hour drive, visibility dropped to less than 500m.

“There are still many motorcylists on the road though,” he said, “Life goes on and people seem to grumble less here.”

However, as the pollution levels in Muar reached its worst this morning, he found himself waking up with a dry throat to the unpleasant burning smell, with the smog creeping indoors through the bathroom windows.

Muar and its neighbouring Ledang district have been placed in an emergency status this afternoon after the air pollutant index soared beyond 750.

The API’s record remained at 860, which was recorded in Sarawak in 1997.

The Johor Disaster Management and Relief Committee has ordered the immediate closure of all schools, public and private offices, factories, contruction sites, quarries and other non-essential services till further notice. The use of private vehicles will also be restricted.

 

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