Two more Johor schools hit by toxic fumes, eight students in hospital

Emergency medical staff bringing a primary school student from SK Tanjung Puteri Resort to receive treatment for breathing difficulties at the Taman Pasir Putih multipurpose hall in Pasir Gudang today. — Picture by Roysten Rueben
Emergency medical staff bringing a primary school student from SK Tanjung Puteri Resort to receive treatment for breathing difficulties at the Taman Pasir Putih multipurpose hall in Pasir Gudang today. — Picture by Roysten Rueben

JOHOR BARU, March 12 — Another two schools in Pasir Gudang were affected by hazardous fumes today, with eight students from SK Tanjung Puteri Resort rushed to the Sultan Ismail Hospital (HSI) here after complaining of breathing difficulty and nausea.

The other school that is affected is the adjacent SMK Tanjung Puteri Resort secondary school. Both schools are situated about 500m from the earlier affected SK Pasir Putih and SMK Pasir Putih schools.

Johor Health, Environment and Agriculture Committee chairman Dr Sahruddin Jamal said all the affected students were sent to HSI after experiencing the symptoms of chemical inhalation.

“So far the health authorities have received eight SK Tanjung Puteri Resort students who are currently receiving treatment and are being monitoring at HSI,” he said here today.

As a precaution, Dr Sahruddin said all the pupils were instructed to vacate the school before being placed at the Taman Pasir Putih multipurpose hall in Pasir Gudang for health monitoring.

The scene where about 100 school students, believed to have breathing difficulties after inhaling fumes, being temporarily placed for health monitoring at the Taman Pasir Putih multipurpose hall in Pasir Gudang today. — Picture by Ben Tan
The scene where about 100 school students, believed to have breathing difficulties after inhaling fumes, being temporarily placed for health monitoring at the Taman Pasir Putih multipurpose hall in Pasir Gudang today. — Picture by Ben Tan

Last Thursday, two schools were evacuated and closed due to air pollution following methane and benzene fumes emanating from illegally dumped chemical waste in Sungai Kim Kim in Pasir Gudang.

Following the clean-up, they reopened yesterday morning after an air assessment confirmed it to be safe, but about five hours later, the hot weather triggered fumes from the residue.

Earlier today, it was reported that the number of those affected as reaching 207 people at 11pm yesterday.

Meanwhile, a check by Malay Mail revealed that over 100 primary and secondary school students from SK Tanjung Resort and SMK Tanjung Puteri Resort are receiving temporary treatment at the Taman Pasir Putih multipurpose hall.

Johor Islamic Religious Affairs and Education Committee chairman Aminolhuda Hassan said the order was given for the immediate closure SK Tanjung Resort and SMK Tanjung Puteri Resort by noon.

He said the Fire and Rescue Department’s hazardous material (Hazmat) unit, the Department of Environment and all related government agencies are at the scene to monitor and assess the situation.

“Initial findings revealed that the fumes may have been triggered by the hot weather again and this time carried by the wind to the other two schools,” said Aminolhuda when contacted by Malay Mail today.

As a safety precaution, Aminolhuda said the state government, on the advice of the related agencies, may soon order the closure of other schools within the Sungai Kim Kim river vicinity.

“This will also include religious schools in the area as a temporary measure until the situation is clear and safe for the students,” he said.