Students return to school with face masks on due to haze in Malaysian state

UNTV News   •   September 11, 2019   •   581

Students in the Malaysian state of Sarawak returned to school on Wednesday (September 11) donning face masks due to thick haze coming from forest fires in neighbouring Indonesia.

On Tuesday (September 10) more than 400 schools in Sarawak were ordered to close after the smoke from the Indonesian side of the island drove up pollution to unhealthy levels.

Forest fires have raged through parts of the Indonesian island of Sumatra and the province of Kalimantan on Borneo in recent weeks, forcing the government to send in thousands of military and police to douse the flames.

Indonesia’s neighbours have regularly complained about smog caused by its forest blazes – often started by farmers trying to clear land for palm oil and pulp plantations – though Jakarta has denied the accusation, saying forest fires had also started in other countries across the region. (REUTERS)

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Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan flag carriers divert all flights over Iran

UNTV News   •   January 8, 2020

Bangkok Desk – The flag carriers of Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan said Wednesday they would divert flights over Iran’s airspace in face of its escalating tensions with the United States.

Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines and China Airlines were among various carriers who announced they would stop flying through Iran on the same day Tehran attacked a military base in Iraq housing US troops.

“In view of the latest developments in the region, all [Singapore Airlines] flights in and out of Europe will not be flying over the Iranian airspace. We will continue to monitor the situation closely,” the Singaporean carrier said in a Wednesday statement to EFE.

It was confirmed that the airline’s low-cost subsidiary Scoot would also avoid Iran. Developments came shortly after the United States Federal Aviation Authority banned US airlines from overflying Iraq, Iran, the Gulf of Oman and the waters between Iran and Saudi Arabia, following days of escalating tensions in the Middle East.

The conflict between Tehran and Washington was further fueled Friday following the killing of Qasem Soleimani, a top general of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

After Wednesday’s missile attack, Malaysia Airlines released a statement announcing its intentions to avoid Iran’s airspace.

“Malaysia Airlines does not fly over the airspace of Iraq on its flights to/from London, Jeddah and Medina. Due to recent events involving Iran, Malaysia Airlines will be avoiding the conflict airspace of Iran,” the airline said. “Safety is of utmost importance to Malaysia Airlines.”

The airline is among the more cautious carriers following high-profile incidents that marred its operations last decade, including a March 2014 flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur which was struck by a missile while cruising over eastern Ukraine during the ongoing War in Donbass.

The attack on flight MH17 killed all 298 people on board, only four months after Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 disappeared over the Southern Indian Ocean with 239 passengers on board.

Meanwhile, Taiwan’s national carrier, China Airlines, said it would avoid both Iraqi and Iranian airspace.

“In light of the events in the region, all China Airlines flights bound to Europe will not overfly neither the Iranian nor Iraqi airspace. We will continue to attentively monitor the situation and will adjust the flights in consequence,” a spokesperson for the carrier said in a statement.

Earlier on Wednesday, a Ukranian International Airlines Boeing 737 carrying 176 people crashed and killed everyone on board after taking off from Iran’s Imam Khomeini airport in Tehran, according to the Middle Eastern country’s emergency organization. EFE-EPA


680 suspected Chinese scammers arrested in Malaysia raid

Robie de Guzman   •   November 21, 2019

Kuala Lumpur – Malaysian authorities have arrested 680 suspected Chinese online scammers in a raid near Putrajaya, the Immigration Department said on Thursday.

The raid was conducted Wednesday at what is believed to be a call center in a six-storey building in Cyberjaya, south of Kuala Lumpur, Immigration Department director-general Khairul Dzaimee Daud said in a press conference.

About 8,230 mobile phones, 174 laptops, and 787 computers were seized, he said, adding that 100 people had escaped and efforts were underway to track them down.

The department had announced the news Wednesday on its Facebook page, saying then that almost 1,000 were arrested in a scam syndicate run by Chinese nationals.

Social media videos showed people jumping out of second-storey windows, dozens sprinting out of the building, and one person being tackled by law enforcement.

The group had been operating in Malaysia for six months and had been targeting victims in China through investment scams using WeChat Pay and Chinese banks for transactions, Khairul said.

The call center was secured with security guards, CCTVs and access cards.

All those arrested were found to have entered the country via social visit passes and almost all of them could not produce their passports, the official said. EFE-EPA


PAGASA clarifies ‘Haze Bulletin’ issued from unofficial social media account

UNTV News   •   September 20, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — State weather service PAGASA clarified alleged ‘haze bulletin’ circulating over social media.

In its official social media page, DOST-PAGASA stressed it has not issued any haze bulletin.

PAGASA said the alleged haze bulletin was posted on “Dost_PAGASA Visayas” Facebook page which the agency did not claim as among its official accounts.

All PAGASA products from its central and regional offices are posted on the following official social media accounts:

Facebook: Dost_pagasa
Twitter: @dost_pagasa

“The public is advised to remain vigilant against unofficial information coming from unverified sources,” the agency said.

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