Uggah briefing reporters on the cloud seeding operation. Photo by Chimon Upon

KUCHING: The state Meteorological Department will begin conducting cloud seeding operations in an effort to reduce the effects of the worsening haze in the state today.

The operation will be carried out until Sunday (Sept 22).

According to Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah, the operation is being carried out in stages involving the use of the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) C-130 Hercules aircraft that will be flying to Kuching, Kota Samarahan, Serian, Sri Aman, Betong, Saratok, Sarikei, Kanowit, Sibu, Mukah, and Sematan.

Uggah hopes that the operation will assist in reducing the effects of the haze.

“Whether it would work or not depends on (the ideal conditions of) the availability of clouds – if there are no clouds then it  cannot be done,” he said when met by reporters during the cloud seeding operation briefing at the RMAF base here today.

Uggah, who is also the chairman of the State Disaster Management Committee (JPBN), asserted that the increase of hotspots in Kalimantan from 400 yesterday to 788 today served as bad news as the haze from Kalimantan is trans-boundary and has affected the air quality in some parts of Sarawak.

He added that the wind direction has become another issue as it is currently blowing over the state, carrying the haze with it.

“Two to three hotspots were also detected in Sri Aman which has worsened the haze. As such, we have mobilised five bulldozers to assist the state Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) to douse the fires.

“Yesterday, a Bombardier plane was flown from Miri to assist in dousing the flames in Sri Aman, but it has difficulties in obtaining the water.

“If the situation still persists, the plane will fly over to Sri Aman to assist,” he added.

It is learnt that Bomba had mobilised firefighters from neighbouring divisions such as Betong and Serian to douse the fires at the hotspots.

According to data released by the Department of Environment (DOE), Sri Aman’s air quality continues to deteriorate as the Air Pollutant Index (API) reading as at 10pm today reached hazardous level of 420, followed by Kuching with 246, Sarikei with 228 and Samarahan with 219.

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