Record levels of pollution are being recorded in Singapore this week as smog overtakes the city. The city-state's prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, says it may linger for weeks.
Singapore's smog problem is being attributed to farmers attempting to clear land along the Indonesian island of Sumatra through a "slash and burn" process, only to start forest fires instead.
The Pollution Standards Index peaked at 371 earlier today, well above hazardous levels, before falling to about 218 (a PSI reading over 200 indicates "very unhealthy" air and a PSI score above 300 is considered "hazardous"). Singapore's previous PSI high was 226, reached in 1997.
Emergency meetings are being held in Jakarta between the two nation's environment officials, but frustrations have already spilled out on both sides, with Singapore's Environment and Water Resources Minister writing on his Facebook page that "no country or corporation has the right to pollute the air at the expense of Singaporeans' health and wellbeing." Indonesia's Minister for People's Welfare has since accused Singapore of "behaving like a child." According to the BBC, other Indonesian officials suggest foreign palm oil companies, some from Singapore, may be partially responsible for the fires.
Thanks to the poor visibility in Singapore, air traffic controllers have been told to work with extra caution. Air quality issues have led stores to run out of disposable face masks. McDonald's has canceled its delivery service for now, 200 schools in the southern portion of the island are closed and the Singaporean military has suspended all outdoor training.
The Indonesian government says it is educating farmers about alternatives to slash-and-burn agriculture.
Below, via Reuters, scenes from Singapore, as record air pollution and smog persist.