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article imageHazardous smoke blankets Singapore, pollution index reaches 371

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By Leo Reyes     Jun 20, 2013 in Environment
Hazardous smoke coming from neighboring Indonesia threatens Singapore residents as fire continues to spread in the vast forest of Sumatra since the beginning of the week.
Singapore authorities are worried that the severe haze caused by smoke coming from burning grass and trees in Indonesia, could pose serious danger to health of the residents.
Pollution index has reached 371 at 1p.m. Thursday, surpassing the record of 226 in 1977. According to Singapore's Environment Agency, air quality becomes unhealthy when the index breaches 200 PSI (Pollutant Standards Index).
Singapore residents have been using face masks in their homes and at their places of work to minimize inhalation of the hazardous smoke.
Singapore authorities led by National Environment Agency chief Andrew Tan have been urging Indonesia to act swiftly in extinguishing the forest fire which he believed are man-made and should therefore be averted.
The haze caused by fires raging across Sumatra is not an act of nature, but man-made, he said.
“I urged Indonesia to take more decisive action, because the situation is likely to deteriorate in the next few weeks and at the onset of the dry season if no further efforts are taken,” he added.
“We registered that given the weather conditions, the burning actions are man made and therefore can and should be averted. We pressed them to take our concerns seriously.”
But Indonesian Coordinating Minister Agung Laksono said "Singapore shouldn't be like children, in such a tizzy."
"Indonesian citizens also need to be looked after, there are hundreds." he said in a press conference on Thursday.
"It's not what Indonesians want, it's nature," he added.
Minister Agung said that cloud seeding to induce rain will be undertaken as soon as possible or when thick clouds become visible.
Meanwhile Singapore's Environmental Agency said that thick haze would continue for the next few days or until the fire in Indonesia is suppressed.
View Singapore haze slideshow here.
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