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JAKARTA, Sept 15, 2015:

A total of 354 Malaysian students in Jambi, Pekanbaru and Palembang in Sumatra, Indonesia, will be moved out from their campuses after the Air Pollutant Index (API) readings in these places reached the very unhealthy level.

Director of Education Malaysia (EM) in Indonesia, Dr Juzhar Jusoh, told Bernama here today that out of that number, 193 students are from Universitas Islam Negeri Syarif Kasim in Pekanbaru.

He said another 103 students were from the Institut Agama Islam Negeri Sulthan Saifuddin in Jambi and 58 from Universitas Sriwijaya and Institut Agama Islam Negeri Intan Lampung in Palembang.

“A total of 44 medical students, who are undergoing clinical training outside Kota Jambi, have been moved to the Haji Hostel in Padang and have been given five days leave by the university.”

He added that the National Security Council was working to help move the Malaysian students to safer locations.

Juzhar said the haze in the affected areas had been at an unhealthy level for the past three weeks but EM faced problems transferring the students because classes went on as usual and the universities refused to give them leave.

He said as an initial effort, EM, through the Malaysian Students National Association in Indonesia, had distributed face masks and eye drops to all Malaysian students.

However, he said, the haze in these areas had worsened, with API readings of more than 400, causing the Malaysian students, especially the girls, to complain of aches and coughs and facing difficulty getting clean water.

“As the local authorities have still not declared an emergency in the affected areas, the universities have not given permission to the students to take time off, but we will continue requesting for this for Malaysian students as many of them have fallen sick.”

Juzhar said after getting EM’s report, the Higher Education Ministry had responded immediately by moving the students to safer locations.

Indonesia today declared Riau in Sumatra as an emergency zone after the haze in the area was reported to be at a very dangerous level.

The local media reported that the API reading in Riau exceeded 900, with a visibility of less than 100 metres, paralysing economic and social activities, including at the Sultan Syarif Kasim II International Airport.

Riau’s local newspaper, Tribun Pekanbaru quoted its Acting Governor Arsyadjuliandi Rachman as saying the API reading in the capital of Riau, Pekanbaru, was at a very unhealthy level.

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