Malaysians pray for rain

As Malaysia is in crisis of air pollution, the commoners were asked to pray for rain. To make things worse, acrid forest-fire smoke is blowing in from neighbouring Indonesia.

The request came from the country's prime minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, a day after he declared an emergency in two areas worst affected by the haze.

A protest took place outside the Indonesian embassy in the capital, according to BBC.

Jakarta has been urged to do more to stop the fires on the island of Sumatra which cause the pollution.

As the call to prayers echoed from mosques around this mainly Muslim country, the premier called for Muslims, Christians, Buddhists and Hindus to beg divine intervention to wash the skies of a week-long haze that has threatened public health, Reuters says.

"When something like this happens, we have to ask for God's help," Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was quoted as saying in Malay-language newspaper Utusan Malaysia on Friday.

Malaysia plans to send 100 firefighters to Sumatra to help Indonesia douse the flames.

Air-pollution readings in Malaysia have yet to match the dangerous levels of 1997 when mainly Indonesian fires blotted out skies across Southeast Asia, badly hurting tourism. Singapore and even many parts of peninsular Malaysia, including many beach resorts, have been spared this time.

But the haze has forced hundreds of schools to close in and around the Malaysian capital and also hit some key industrial sites, forcing Port Klang, Malaysia's biggest port, and an airport close to Kuala Lumpur to close for several hours.

Photo by BBC.

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