Students in Johor fall ill; toxic gas suspected

JOHOR BARU • About 15 students from Sekolah Agama Taman Mawar, an Islamic school in Johor's Pasir Gudang district, suffered breathing difficulties and vomiting, possibly due to exposure to poisonous gas, yesterday.

Pasir Gudang Fire and Rescue Station chief Ibrahim Omar said the authorities received a distress call at about 3.40pm, reported The Star online news.

"When we arrived at the scene, we found about 15 students suffering from such symptoms and five of them have been taken to Sultan Ismail Hospital for further medical treatment," he said.

A hazardous-material response team was sent to the school.

Malaysia's Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad told reporters at a news conference in Putrajaya that the cause appeared to be "poisonous gas or one of those volatile organic compounds... just like the Sungai Kim Kim incident".

He was referring to the toxic pollution of Sungai Kim Kim in March that resulted in over 4,000 people falling ill and led to the closure of 111 schools.

He said that his ministry is closely monitoring the situation and "everything is under control", reported Bernama news agency.


He added that it has yet to decide whether to close the school temporarily.

Meanwhile, Johor Health Department's director, Dr Selahudden Abdul Aziz, said the department was investigating the cause of the illness.

"Once we discover the main cause, we will be issuing a statement on the matter," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 21, 2019, with the headline 'Students in Johor fall ill; toxic gas suspected'. Print Edition | Subscribe