KUALA LUMPUR, March 12 (Xinhua) -- Authorities in Malaysia's southern Johor state announced on Tuesday that 13 schools will be indefinitely closed due to chemical pollution.
Johor Health, Environment and Agriculture Committee chairman Sahruddin Jamal said the state government had activated its disaster management committee to coordinate and monitor the situation.
In a statement, Sahruddin said the committee had decided to close the schools for the public's safety from Wednesday indefinitely and had hired a contractor to implement decontamination along a 1.5 km stretch of the Kim Kim river in Johor's Pasir Gudang district.
Pasir Gudang is an industrial area located near the state capital of Johor Baru that borders Singapore. There are several major factories in the area involved in petrochemicals, palm oil and other heavy industries.
"The public is advised to avoid entering the affected area and also to avoid any recreational activities in the area near the Kim Kim river in Pasir Gudang," he said.
"Please seek medical treatment immediately if you experience irritation of the eyes, chest pains or difficulty breathing and if you suspect having been exposed or inhaled the chemicals."
State news agency Bernama reported earlier on Tuesday that 260 individuals had suffered from shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting in the area.
In a similar incident last week, authorities were forced to evacuate over 1,000 people, mostly school students, after chemicals were illegally dumped in a river near two schools.