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Singapore urged people to remain indoors amid unprecedented levels of air pollution Thursday as a smoky haze wrought by forest fires in neighbouring Indonesia worsened dramatically

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Singapore urged people to remain indoors amid unprecedented levels of air pollution Thursday as a smoky haze wrought by forest fires in neighbouring Indonesia worsened dramatically.

Joseph Nair/AP

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Some hospitals shut windows in wards with elderly patients to keep out the acrid odour of burning. Sports organizers cancelled several football and sailing competitions this weekend.

Joseph Nair/AP

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Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong advised residents to stay indoors as far as possible, adding that ‘we will get through this together.’ He said haze was expected to persist for an unknown number of days because of wind and weather conditions. He announced that a government panel was being formed to protect public health and the city-state’s economic resilience.

Joseph Nair/AP

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A masked man walks as the sun sets among buildings covered with haze at the Singapore Central Business District. .

Joseph Nair/AP

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A woman covers her mouth with a towel as she cycles in her village amid light haze in Muar, in Malaysia's southern state of Johor bordering Singapore.

BAZUKI MUHAMMAD/REUTERS

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A tourist poses for photos with the Merlion (unseen) in the hazy skyline of Singapore The Pollution Standards Index (PSI) soared to a record high of 321 at 10 p.m., up from 290 just an hour earlier and below 200 earlier in the day. A PSI reading above 300 indicates ‘hazardous’ air quality, while a reading between 201 and 300 means ‘very unhealthy.’

EDGAR SU/REUTERS

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The Department of Environment banned open burning and made it punishable by up to five years in prison in three states separated from Sumatra by the Malacca Strait. Indonesian officials have defended their response to the haze, saying the government is educating farmers about alternatives to traditional slash-and-burn agriculture. Some Indonesian officials have also suggested that some fires might be blamed on Singaporean and Malaysian companies involved in Indonesia’s plantation industry.

BEAWIHARTA/REUTERS

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Commuters cover their mouths as they wait to cross a road in the haze in Singapore.

EDGAR SU/REUTERS

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