Skip to main content

Singapore gets some relief from haze of choking fumes

By Brian Walker, CNN
June 23, 2013 -- Updated 0758 GMT (1558 HKT)
Students wear masks as haze shrouds Kuala Lumpur on June 23. Many schools in Malaysia were closed on Monday after air pollution caused by forest fires in Indonesia spiked to hazardous levels. Students wear masks as haze shrouds Kuala Lumpur on June 23. Many schools in Malaysia were closed on Monday after air pollution caused by forest fires in Indonesia spiked to hazardous levels.
HIDE CAPTION
Malaysia chokes on smoke
Malaysia chokes on smoke
Malaysia chokes on smoke
Singapore chokes on smoke
Singapore chokes on smoke
Singapore chokes on smoke
Singapore chokes on smoke
Singapore chokes on smoke
Singapore chokes on smoke
Singapore chokes on smoke
Singapore chokes on smoke
Singapore chokes on smoke
Singapore chokes on smoke
Singapore chokes on smoke
Singapore chokes on smoke
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Pollution levels dip sharply in Singapore
  • Small pockets of people venture back out to the streets in some neighborhoods
  • Although haze levels have receded, officials warn that the smoke could make a strong comeback

Singapore (CNN) -- Singapore breathed a sigh of relief Sunday as changing wind patterns created a pocket of clearer skies from a haze of choking fumes.

Pollution levels measured by the Singaporean government dipped sharply after all-time record levels hit Friday. The fumes were blamed on plantation fires in neighboring Indonesia.

Small pockets of people ventured back out to the streets in neighborhoods such as Ang Mo Kio, but many donned filter masks to help with the foul-smelling haze.

iReporter trapped inside because of smog
Haze hangs over Singapore.

Masks quickly sold out at stores when the pollution hit last week. But by Sunday, officials handed out emergency supplies of free masks at community centers.

Although haze levels have receded, officials warned that the smoke could make a strong comeback in the coming days, and may linger for months.

That could have serious health implications, said Philip Eng, a professor of respiratory medicine at Mt. Elizabeth Medical Centre.

"In my patients, I have seen an increase (in consultations) by about 30% or so," he said, particularly among older people with chronic conditions.

"But we are still in early days," he said. "If this thing drags on for a month, I won't be surprised if more people get hospitalized."

Many usually crowded cafes along the waterfront sat empty Saturday, with too few customers to stay open. But a scattering of tourists braved the haze to take photos at the city's iconic Merlion fountain.

The smell of the burning peat and wood was distinct.

"We're used to fog, but this was a real 'pea souper'," Briton expatriate Tom Fairburn said. "It smells like a pile of burning tires next to a bonfire, not pleasant."

It's hard to predict the final economic impact of the haze on Singapore's economy. One Asia-Pacific brokerage firm put the potential toll in the hundreds of millions.

CLSA said that the economy had taken a $300 million-hit in lost tourist income, closed offices and construction downtime in 1997 -- the previous all-time high in pollution. The current situation could be far more costly, it said.

Transport officials warned ships to be extra vigilant in the teeming straits between Singapore and Sumatra because the haze made it difficult to see other boats.

It is easy to see the neighboring island from the beaches in Singapore. But the view was not as clear in the past few days, with ships peeking in and out of the thick haze Saturday.

Local shop owners felt the crunch.

In one beach side shop, the owner looked forlornly into the horizon as bikes that would normally be rented out stood in stacks.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
December 24, 2014 -- Updated 0254 GMT (1054 HKT)
A decade on from devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the Red Cross' Matthias Schmale says that the lessons learned have made us safer.
December 24, 2014 -- Updated 0024 GMT (0824 HKT)
As soon as word broke that "The Interview" will hit some theaters, celebrations erupted across social media -- including from the stars of the film.
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 1844 GMT (0244 HKT)
Did a rogue hacker -- or the U.S. government -- cut the cord for the regime's Internet?
December 24, 2014 -- Updated 0106 GMT (0906 HKT)
Monaco's newborn royals, Princess Gabriella and Crown Prince Jacques Honore Rainier, posed for their first official photos with their parents.
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 1706 GMT (0106 HKT)
Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited with inventing the world wide web, gives a speech on April 18, 2012 in Lyon, central France, during the World Wide Web 2012 international conference on April 18, 2012 in Lyon.
What's next for the Internet? Acclaimed scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee shares his insights.
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 0822 GMT (1622 HKT)
The United States and North Korea have long been locked in a bitter cycle of escalating and deescalating tensions. But the current cyber conflict may be especially hard to predict.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 2100 GMT (0500 HKT)
A chilling video shows Boko Haram executing dozens of non-Muslims.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 1134 GMT (1934 HKT)
New planes, new flight tests ... but will we get cheaper airfares?
December 21, 2014 -- Updated 1746 GMT (0146 HKT)
The killing of two cops could not have happened at a worse time for a city embroiled in a public battle over police-community relations, Errol Louis says.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 0251 GMT (1051 HKT)
The gateway to Japan's capital, Tokyo Station, is celebrating its centennial this month -- and it has never looked better.
December 20, 2014 -- Updated 1621 GMT (0021 HKT)
Unicef has warned that more than 1.7 million children in conflict-torn areas of eastern Ukraine face an "extremely serious" situation.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 1701 GMT (0101 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT