Malaysian students to be evacuated from Riau, Jambi provinces after haze emergency declared

A photo taken on Sept 20 shows Pekanbaru in Indonesia's Riau province shrouded in haze. ST PHOTO: KHALID BABA

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A total of 306 Malaysian students in Pekanbaru and Jambi cities in Sumatra will be evacuated after a state of emergency was declared in Riau province due to severe haze, Malaysia's National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) said.

Nadma said in a statement on Tuesday (Sept 24) that 165 students will be brought to Malaysia, while 141 others will be evacuated to the Malaysia Hall in Jakarta.

Pekanbaru is the capital of Riau province, while Jambi is the provincial capital of neighbouring Jambi province.

Malaysia's Wisma Putra, the Foreign Ministry, said in a separate statement that the government decided to initiate the evacuation process after the emergency was declared in the area.

Nadma said Riau governor Syamsuar on Monday declared a state of emergency for the province from that day to Oct 31, which may be extended if the air pollution situation does not improve.

The emergency was declared after the PM10 Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) in Pekanbaru surged at 10pm on Sunday to cross 700, above levels seen during Indonesia's worst haze episode in 2015. The PSI dropped to 489 at 7am on Monday.

Nadma said that to speed up the evacuation process, the agency said that commercial flights would be used to bring home the 165 students to the country while the remaining 141 would be moved to the evacuation centre in Malaysia Hall by Indonesian domestic flights.

The agency added that the Malaysian students moved to Jakarta would remain there for the duration of the emergency.

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The agency stressed that the Malaysian government is confident of getting all Malaysian citizens out of the emergency area.

The evacuation would be carried out by Wisma Putra, Nadma and other agencies including the National Security Council and Education Ministry, the Nadma statement added.

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