Thousands of schools in Malaysia, Indonesia close due to smog hinh anh 1Smog covers the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (Photo: Xinhua/VNA)
Hanoi (VNA) – Thousands of schools in Malaysia and Indonesia were forced to close on September 19 as air quality has reached unhealthy level due to haze from forest fires.

Nearly 2,500 schools in Malaysia were ordered to close due to smog spreading from forest fires in Sumatra and Borneo islands of the neighbour Indonesia, affecting at least 1.7 million students.

Notably, classes in about 300 schools in Kuala Lumpur were suspended, marking the first large-scale school closure in Malaysia’s capital city.

A growing number of Malaysians were suffering health problems due to the haze, with authorities saying there had been a sharp increase in outpatients at government hospitals.

The same day, hundreds of schools in hard-hit Riau province on Sumatra island of Indonesia were also set to close, while about 1,300 were closed in Central Kalimantan province on Borneo.

Poor visibility forced several airports in the Indonesian part of Borneo to suspend operation and scores of flights have already been diverted and cancelled in the region due to the smog.

Indonesian authorities have tried to induce rain through cloud seeding in a bid to extinguish the fires. Thousands of security forces and water-bombing airplanes were deployed to tackle the blaze.

Meanwhile, air quality was in the "unhealthy" range across Singapore on September 19 morning, according to the country’s National Environment Agency.

Singapore’s Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli called it a "major setback" in the fight against climate change.

Wildfires occur in Indonesia in every dry season due to traditional burning practices in agriculture to clear land for palm oil and pulp plantations.

The fires send smog across Southeast Asia annually, but this year has been the worst since 2015 and has added to concerns about wildfire outbreaks worldwide exacerbating global warming.

Indonesia’s disaster mitigation agency said more than 328,000 ha of forest and peat land were burnt down since the start of the year./.