Malaysia, Indonesia shut thousands of schools over forest fires haze

Fires belch smog across Southeast Asia annually, but this year’s are the worst since 2015. AFP
Fires belch smog across Southeast Asia annually, but this year’s are the worst since 2015. AFP

JAKARTA – Thousands of schools were shuttered across Malaysia and Indonesia Thursday, affecting at least 1.7 million pupils, officials said, as toxic haze from rampant forest fires sent air quality plummeting.

Nearly 2,500 schools were ordered to shut their doors in Malaysia — including nearly 300 in the smog-hit capital Kuala Lumpur – over soaring health concerns sparked by toxic haze from out-of-control blazes in Indonesia’s Sumatra and Borneo islands.

Indonesia said hundreds of schools in hard-hit Riau province on Sumatra would also be shut Thursday, with 800 closed in one district alone, while about 1,300 were shut in its Central Kalimantan province on Borneo. (AFP)

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