JOHOR BAHRU: The number of people receiving treatment for methane poisoning after breathing in fumes from toxic waste dumped in a Pasir Gudang river rose to 260 on Tuesday (Mar 12).
Among those affected were students from the Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK) Tanjung Puteri Resort and Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (SMK) Tanjung Puteri Resort.
Patients were given treatment at the Taman Pasir Putih Community Hall after they suffered shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting.
Their symptoms were similar to the ones suffered by students of SK Taman Pasir Putih and SMK Pasir Putih, which were first ordered to shut on Mar 7. They were reopened briefly on Monday, but forced to close again about five hours later.
The students had breathed in methane fumes from chemicals that were illegally dumped in the nearby Kim Kim River.
State Health, Environment and Agriculture Committee chairman Dr Sahruddin Jamal, who spent about 15 minutes visiting the victims at the hall, declined to elaborate on the latest incident.
“As it (incident) is involving the state level ... I can’t give further details,” he told reporters.
Over the weekend, at least 82 people were hospitalised or sought treatment.
Sahruddin was accompanied by Johor Fire and Rescue Department director Yahaya Madis, Johor Deputy Police Chief Mohd Kamarudin Md Din and Johor Health director Dr Selahuddeen Abd Aziz.
SUDDEN WIND CONDITIONS BROUGHT ODOUR
The headteacher of SK Tanjung Puteri Resort said the winds brought the unpleasant odour that caused the pupils to feel unwell on Tuesday.
Mohd Asri Abdul Kadir said lessons were in progress until about 9.45am when some of the pupils complained of breathing difficulties and nausea.
“I believe the winds may have blown towards the direction of the school, bringing with it an odour that caused the pupils to experience the symptoms,” he told reporters at the school.
Students who suffered from the symptoms were taken to the community hall where health officials examined them and provided the necessary treatment.
He said officials from the Department of Environment had come to the school to check on the air quality, but there was no pollution at that time.
"Firefighters and rescue personnel then ordered the closure of the school and instructed staff and students to return home at 11.15am," he said.