Burning Indonesian Rainforests Cover Cities Of SE Asia With Haze - NYT
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — For much of the year, the Petronas Towers, the world’s tallest twin buildings, are gleaming landmarks visible far from the city center here. But last weekend, the 88-story structures were shrouded in a smoky haze that prompted doctors to warn people with respiratory problems to wear masks.
The haze, attributed mostly to fires burning on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, has become a recurring summer blight, engulfing parts of Malaysia, Thailand, Brunei and Singapore, and leaving a litany of health and economic costs in its wake.
Experts say that some progress has been made in the 15 years since the Association of Southeast Asian Nations first pledged to combat the problem, after one of the worst forest fires in the region’s history. That fire was traced to the clearing of land by burning in Indonesia. But experts say far more must be done before the area will see clearer skies, including better law enforcement and international cooperation.
The haze that hit Kuala Lumpur last weekend was the worst so far this year, according to Halimah Hassan, director general of Malaysia’s Department of Environment, with readings on the air pollution index exceeding the threshold for unhealthy.