Government keeping close tabs on volcano eruption

Posted on August 31, 2010. Filed under: Climate Change |

-The Star- PUTRAJAYA: The Government is closely monitoring the eruption of the Mt Sinabung volcano in North Sumatra, Indonesia, which has been spewing high clouds of smoke and ash that can potentially disrupt international aviation.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who chairs the Natural Disaster Management Committee, said they were keeping close tabs on the impact of the volcanic eruption.

“We cannot take it lightly as it can impact international flights and people,” he said yesterday after chairing the fifth National Water Resources Council meeting.

Muhyiddin also launched the National Climate Change policy aimed at helping the nation tackle climate change problems.

The policy would facilitate better management of resources and environmental conservation, integration of responses towards climate change and coordinated implementation to help reduce its negative impact.

In Petaling Jaya, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha said Sunday’s volcanic eruption in North Sumatra had not affected airline operations in Malaysia and Indonesia so far.

The ministry, he said, would be getting updates from the weather department in Indonesia.

A Malaysia Airlines spokesman said MAS flights to Medan were operating as scheduled.

Mt Sinabung’s eruption has forced the evacuation of 30,000 people.

A check with the Malaysian Meteorological Department showed that its unit at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport was monitoring the wind conditions.

“If the wind changes direction and blows from the south-west, then the effect of the volcanic eruption might drift to the northern states of Perlis, Kedah, Penang and Perak, and affect visibility and air quality there,” said a department spokesman.

As of 2pm yesterday, visibility was at an average 8km at the department’s stations in Bayan Lepas, Butterworth and Langkawi.

Visibility at the Prai station was about 7km.

The stations in Chuping, Alor Setar and Ipoh recorded good visibility at more than 10km.

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