More schools closed in Malaysia's Johor state due to chemical pollution

Thursday, 2019-03-14 15:15:10
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Malaysia shuts more than 100 schools as toxic waste sickens students. (Source: Bernama)
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Malaysian authorities were forced to close more than 100 schools in southern Johor state on March 13 due to serious chemical pollution.

In a statement late on March 13, Education Minister Maszlee Malik announced all 111 schools in Johor's Pasir Gudang district would be closed considering the current situation.

Maszlee said the decision was made after considering the latest developments and based on information of the state's disaster management committee.

The move came after he ordered earlier on March 13 to close 34 schools in the district to avoid any further exposure by students and members of the public to the chemical pollution.

"The teachers also do not have to report for duty as the situation remains dangerous," Maszlee said, adding that he had seen some 50 students being sent to school during his visit to the area.

Meanwhile, the Sultan of Johor Ibrahim Ismail urged the authorities to conduct a full-scale investigation to identify the culprits immediately.

Pasir Gudang is an industrial area located near the state capital of Johor Baru that borders Singapore. There are several major factories in the area involved in petrochemicals, palm oil and other heavy industries.

The authorities' move on March 13 follows the closure of 13 schools on March 12 after 260 students and members of the public were given treatment for exposure to chemicals, with symptoms including shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, according to state news agency Bernama.

In a similar incident last week, authorities were forced to evacuate over 1,000 people, mostly school students, after chemicals were illegally dumped in a river near two schools.