Johor rules out repeat of Sungai Kim Kim following Pasir Gudang air pollution incident

The incident occurred at two schools - Sekolah Agama Taman Mawar and SK Pasir Gudang 4 - at about 3.40pm on Thursday. PHOTO: FOTOBERNAMA HAK CIPTA TERPELIHARA

PASIR GUDANG (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The Johor government has ruled out a repeat of the Sungai Kim Kim incident after dozens of individuals, mostly students, were admitted to hospital following breathing difficulties and vomiting.

State Health, Culture and Heritage Committee chairman Mohd Khuzzan Abu Bakar said that the authorities have opened an operations centre at the Pasir Gudang Indoor Stadium, following the incident on Thursday (June 20).

"This incident has nothing to do with Sungai Kim Kim because the school is located some 6km away and, so far, the Department of Environment (DOE) has found no illegal dumping here," he told a press conference at the operation centre on Friday.

"The Fire and Rescue Department and DOE will lead the operations team, (and will) inspect air quality within a 2km radius around the affected area."

In March, toxic pollution in the Sungai Kim Kim river resulted in more than 4,000 people falling ill. There was also a temporary closure of 111 schools in Pasir Gudang district.

The latest incident occurred at two schools - Sekolah Agama Taman Mawar and SK Pasir Gudang 4 - on Thursday.

But health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said that up to 10am on Friday, there were 29 victims, of which 21 were females and eight were males.

Sixteen of them, 14 students and two adults, were from Sekolah Agama Taman Mawar, while 13, all students, were from SK Pasir Gudang 4. All of them were in stable condition.

"The public should not panic as the authorities are monitoring the ground situation closely," Mr Khuzzan said, adding that the authorities would continue to monitor air quality until Saturday before making any decision.

State Islamic Religious Affairs, Agriculture and Rural Development Committee chairman Tosrin Jarvanthi said the government would hand out special aid to those affected.

"Each receiving treatment in the hospital will get RM400 (S$131). The aid will be channelled through the schools," he said.

In Putrajaya, Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad said the ministry was aware of the incident and would closely monitor the situation.

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