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Singapore F1 to Race in ‘Unhealthy’ Air: Asia Haze Update

Yoga Rusmana and Eko Listiyorini

(Bloomberg) -- Grand Prix fans and concert goers in Singapore will have to battle “unhealthy” levels of haze Sunday as the city state hosts the Formula One race.

Air quality in southern Singapore, where the race will be held, measured 122 as of 7 p.m., according to data from the city state’s National Environment Agency. That reading is the highest of the unhealthy levels of pollution seen across the island.

The three-day race event has drawn about 268,000 spectators this year, the second-highest attendance in 12 years of the sport in Singapore, the organizer said.

Read why it’s another bad year for the Southeast Asian haze

Here’s the latest across the region:

Ho Chi Minh City visibility

Visibility for drivers on Ho Chi Minh City’s roads dropped to below 300 meters, authorities said, with dust and smoke particles in the air at four times above national standard levels.

Indonesia hotspots

Hotspots in Indonesia rose to 4,119 on Sunday from 2,288 on Saturday, with Kalimantan accounting for 1,349 fires and Sumatra for 1,973, according to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency.

Authorities continued to conduct “weather modification” and managed to create artificial rain in parts of Riau and West Kalimantan provinces on Saturday, the agency said.

Flights canceled

Six of 14 scheduled flights leaving the Malaysian state of Ipoh on Sunday morning were canceled after visibility dropped to 2 kilometers (1.2 miles), the Star newspaper reported. About 747 people were affected by the changes on flights operated by Singapore Air’s budget unit Scoot and AirAsia.

Monsoon hopes

The haze situation could improve once the monsoon transition phase begins Sept. 24, according to a statement from the Malaysian meteorological department Saturday. The transition is expected to usher in thunderstorms and heavy downpours.

Exams at risk

The Malaysian education ministry said it will postpone special exams for 15-year-olds if the Air Pollutant Index level rises above 300, the Star newspaper reported.

Health Impact

Almost 900,000 Indonesians suffered from an acute respiratory infection this year as noxious smoke and ash from forest fires blanketed central and western parts of the archipelago.

South Sumatra province has been the worst-affected area, followed by Riau, according to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency. Serious cases were also found in Jambi, West, South and Central Kalimantan, it said.

No Commitment

Indonesia’s government said the nation’s timber and plantation industries showed a lack of commitment in preventing fires on their land as only about 22% of forestry business permit holders submitted mandatory reports on forest fire control. The Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries defended the industry, saying oil palm plantations were generally not the source of burning. Authorities have named more than 200 companies and farmers as responsible for starting the fires and sealed off their land holdings.

--With assistance from Anisah Shukry, Derek Wallbank and Michelle Jamrisko.

To contact the reporters on this story: Yoga Rusmana in Jakarta at yrusmana@bloomberg.net;Eko Listiyorini in Jakarta at elistiyorini@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Shamim Adam at sadam2@bloomberg.net, Garfield Reynolds

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