School children suffer in toxic waste dumping case in Malaysia

March 15, 2019

An easy discharge of chemical waste believed to contain heavy metals into a river has escalated into a respiratory hazard for residents along the Straits of Johor, Malaysia.

There have been three consecutive waves of air pollution as the chemicals got washed along Sungai Kim Kim, where at least seven schools are located.

A local school headmaster, Mohd Asri Abdul Kadirof SK Tanjung Puteri Resort has said that many students suffered gas poisoning including dizziness, nausea and vomiting when strong winds blew hazardous fumes into the school. As more schoolchildren were affected, rescue personnel ordered the closure of the school by mid-morning and instructed the staff and students to go home.

Fishermen have claimed that thick sludge in the water is causing their boat engines to fail, costing their livelihood.

While the Johor Health Department has rubbished claims of fatalities tied to the incident, the National Disaster Management Agency has taken over the handling of the situation with three people arrested so far.

As of March 14, 2019 the total number of people affected by the chemical pollution is about 3,500 and all 111 schools in the area have been ordered to close.

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