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Malaysia Declares State of Emergency Because of Indonesia Smog

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Malaysia has declared a state of emergency in two parts of the southern state of Johor, as smoke from land-clearing fires in Indonesia pushed air pollution above safe levels.

Malaysian Natural Resources and Environment Minister G. Palnival said Sunday that the edict was made after pollution levels in Malaysia reached their highest levels in 16 years.

Air quality in neighboring Singapore improved Sunday after reaching record pollution levels Friday for a third straight day.

Indonesia has deployed helicopters to help battle raging fires and to seed clouds in a desperate attempt to create rain to douse the flames.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Thursday the haze that began afflicting the city-state Monday could persist until the end of the dry season on Indonesia's Sumatra Island in September or October.

Singapore's National Environment Agency chief Andrew Tan has called on Indonesia to take "decisive action" against companies suspected of burning forests on Sumatra as a cheap way of clearing land.



However, Indonesian Minister for People's Welfare Agung Laksono criticized Singapore's reaction to the haze, accusing the city-state of acting like a "child."

Indonesia has defended its response, saying it is investigating companies suspected of setting the fires and trying to educate plantation owners about alternatives to traditional burning methods.

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