In brief: Indonesia’s fires choking neighbors
Singapore – Singapore urged people to remain indoors because of record air pollution Thursday as a smoky haze wrought by forest fires in neighboring Indonesia worsened dramatically. Nearby Malaysia closed 200 schools and banned open burning in some areas.
The Pollutant Standards Index, Singapore’s main measure of air pollution, surged to a record 371, breaching the “hazardous” classification that can aggravate respiratory ailments. The previous high before this week was in 1997, when the index reached 226.
The hazardous reading lasted three hours before easing to 253 in the evening, still “very unhealthy.”
Smog fueled by raging Indonesian blazes has hit Singapore and Malaysia many times, often in the middle of the year, but the severity of this week’s conditions has strained diplomatic ties. Officials in Singapore say Jakarta must do more to halt fires on Sumatra island started by plantation owners and farmers to clear land cheaply.
Two killed in blast at fireworks building
Montreal, Quebec – A massive explosion at a fireworks warehouse killed two workers Thursday, police said, leaving a huge plume of smoke blanketing an area west of Montreal.
A series of explosions spread from the charred building after the initial blast at B.E.M. Fireworks near Valleyfield, Quebec. Images from the scene showed a building near a major highway completely destroyed.
Provincial police said two bodies were found in the wreckage but they did not identify them.
Nearly two hours after the blast, fireworks could still be heard exploding at the scene of the fire that continued to burn out of control hours after the explosion.