Haze from Indonesian fires may have killed more than 100,000 people – study

A smog outbreak in Southeast Asia last year may have caused over 100,000 premature deaths, according to a new study released Monday that triggered calls for action to tackle the “killer haze”.

Researchers from Harvard and Columbia universities in the US estimated there were more than 90,000 early deaths in Indonesia in areas closest to haze-belching fires, and several thousand more in neighbouring Singapore and Malaysia.

The new estimate, reached using a complex analytical model, is far higher than the previous official death toll given by authorities of just 19 deaths in Indonesia.

Command centre to fight illegal deforestation

A command centre, under the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry, will be set up to manage and patrol forest areas to deter unscrupulous people from clearing land here.

“We will streamline and have a systematic approach to patrol the forest areas to try to catch and stop people from burning and cutting down trees,” ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Zoal Azha Yusoff told the media yesterday.

Earlier, he accompanied minister Datuk Seri G. Palanivel on a visit to a site that had been cleared in Lojing, Kelantan.

Malaysian Nature Society reiterates call for study

A DETAILED Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) study must be conducted before approval is given for activities such as extraction of natural resources such as timber and sand, said the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS).

“Similar studies should also be conducted for dump sites,” said MNS vice-president Henry Goh.

“The MNS is very concerned about the rampant deforestation activities being carried out nationwide.

“The latest report on Bukit Enggang is just one example. We are not against development but all plans must include an EIA study.”