A student hospitalised (Source: AP)

Kuala Lumpur (VNA) – As many as 111 schools in Pasir Gudang, in the southern Johor state of Malaysia, have been closed until further notice following the orders of Education Minister Maszlee Malik on March 13.

The order was made after more than 200 students and teachers were hospitalised due to poisoning that local authorities attributed to a toxic chemical leak last week.

Maszlee said the action was based on the current situation and information received from the State Disaster Management Committee.

Earlier the same day, the minister posted on Facebook that the situation was becoming worse.

He said that the number of people receiving treatment had risen from 35 last week to 207. As of March 11, 44 people, including 33 students, were still being kept in the hospital.

Local authorities held that the reason behind the chemical poisoning was exposure to toxic fumes from chemical waste dumped into Sungai Kim Kim in Pasir Gudang in Johor.

According to rescue force of Johor, victims, aged from 7-40, are students and staff of two affected schools. Earlier, more than 1,000 people, mostly school students, were evacuated to safe sites after authorities received an urgent phone call reporting a strange smell that the caller thought to be chemicals around the two schools in Pasir Gudang.

Early this week, Malaysian authorities seized three suspects disposing toxic chemicals into the river, one of them will be taken to the court soon. If found guilty, the suspect could be sentenced to five years in prison.–VNA