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400 schools closed after latest ‘air pollution’ incident in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: As students faced breathing issues and vomiting, some 400 schools in a state of Malaysia were closed.

The schools were closed in the Malaysian state of Johor after 75 students experienced breathing difficulties and vomiting.

Schools in the industrial area of Pasir Gudang have been shut until Thursday as authorities investigate the latest air pollution incident to hit the state.

In March about 4,000 people – mostly children – fell ill after chemical waste was illegally dumped in a river.

The closed schools include more than 100 primary and secondary schools as well as 300 private kindergartens.

Johor Chief Minister Dr Sahruddin Jamal said 75 students from 15 schools had complained of breathing difficulties and started vomiting. He said they had all been taken to hospital.

Dr Sahruddin had earlier told reporters it was not clear what had caused the latest bout of illness.

However, he said it was not linked to a previous pollution case in March which saw 111 schools shut and thousands of people ill after inhaling toxic fumes from the nearby Kim Kim river.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad vowed on Tuesday that “stern action” would be taken against those behind the incident.

He said the latest incident should not have “happened again… after the previous incident”.