PUTRAJAYA – The eruption of Mount Sinabung in Sumatera, Indonesia has not and will not affect the air quality in Malaysia nor has it brought any sort of viruses to its shores, said Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.
He said in a statement today that his ministry had been monitoring the air quality data following several allegations and rumour that Mount Sinabung eruptions since Feb 19 had affected the air quality in Malaysia and also brought the flu virus into the country.
He said the ministry had been monitoring the air quality data through the Department of Environment (DOE) since the eruption on Feb 19 to date and the air quality level has been ranging from good to moderate most of the time.
“There has thus been absolutely nothing to substantiate the rumour and allegations that the Sinabung volcanic eruption has caused the deterioration of air quality in this country.
“The allegations that volcanic ashes caused the spread of flu here is mischievous and wholly unfounded,”said Wan Junaidi.
Wan Junaidi said it was unlikely that the volcanic ashes would reach the country as Malaysia was still in the Northeasterly monsoon with northeasterly winds predominantly blowing towards Sumatra.
Based on data from the Malaysian Meteorological Department (MET) on Feb 19 at 1700 GMT (1 am), he said the volcanic ash was at an altitude of 10,000 feet and it moved eastwards.
He said MET had been running analyses using the Hybrid Single Particle Lagrangian Integrated Trajectory Model (HYSPLIT), which is a computer model that is used to compute air parcel trajectories and dispersion or deposition of atmospheric pollutants.
He said the HYSPLIT modelling showed that the volcanic ashes from the eruption of the volcano would move northwestward from Mount Sinabung in Sumatra.
Meanwhile, Wan Junaidi said the Health Ministry had confirmed that the flu was caused by the influenza virus and the virus could not survive in hot volcanic lava and ash.
“The uncertain weather conditions prevailing in Malaysia right now have been causing many of our fellow countrymen to fall sick and this has been the situation even before the eruption of the volcano,” he said.
“Malaysians can also rest easy that we will not be affected in any way, shape or form by the eruption of the volcano across the Straits of Malacca either,” Wan Junaidi added. – BERNAMA