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Smog hits “unhealthy range”, NEA website down

It’s been a hazy week so far and I am not just referring to the smog which has engulfed Singapore. The website of the government agency which is responsible for dealing with the haze, the National Environment Agency, has been inaccessible since Thursday afternoon.

The Online Citizen (TOC) has been trying to access the site for updates and the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) readings for the day but the notification on the site says “server is busy”. Perhaps it is due to the traffic from members of the public who are trying to find out the same information as us.

Channelnewsasia however has reported that the reading on Thursday rose to 108 at 6pm, after crossing over the 100-mark at 5pm. This is a jump from the 54 level reported on 16 October.

Members of the public on TOC's Facebook have also reported hazy skies all over Singapore. (See here.)

The smog is caused by 80 hotspots mainly in the Riau Province in Sumatra, Indonesia, created by “Indonesian farmers and plantation companies [which] have set fires to clear large swathes of forests to prepare the land for the crop-planting season. The figure went down to 61 yesterday”, according to the Today newspaper.

On Wednesday, Singapore’s Minister for the Environment and Water Resources said he was “a bit disappointed” with the return of the smog, coming just five days after an Asean meeting to address land and forest fires in the region.

"This is not the first time that we have informed the Indonesians that they should pay attention to hotspots in Sumatra and Borneo,” Dr Yaacob was quoted by the Today newspaper as having said.

Dr Yaacob added: "In fact, last week ... we reminded the meeting that we should remain vigilant, even though it is supposed to be wetter than normal for this year - whenever there is a dry spell, there is the tendency for people to burn, so we pressed upon the Indonesians that they have to do more."

Malaysia on Thursday ordered 200 schools to be closed due to the haze. (See here.)

It remains to be seen what Indonesia, and indeed Asean, will do in the coming days to resolve the forest fires.

TOC also urges the NEA to resolve the problems with its website so that members of the public will be able to receive updates on the situation, which has reached the “unhealthy range”, according to CNA.

In the meantime, TOC invites our readers to snap pictures of the haze from wherever you are in Singapore and email the pictures to us at [email protected].

We will update this article with your pictures when we receive them.

Here are some pictures we’ve received so far:

Raffles Place, Thursday 6pm (Joanne Chia)

Yio Chu Kang, Thursday (Ravi Philemon)

Yio Chu Kang, Thursday (Ravi Philemon)

Eunos, Friday, 7am (Andrew Loh)

Eunos, Thursday 7am (Andrew Loh)

Eunos, Friday, 7am (Andrew Loh)

Bendemeer Road, Friday 8.30am (Lilian Lee)