KUALA LUMPUR: Several ministries are working around the clock to help resolve the toxic crisis in Pasir Gudang.

Ministers in charge of environment, defence, health, education and agriculture yesterday provided an update to the Dewan Rakyat on the measures taken to assuage the situation which has been deemed as critical.

Deputy Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Munirah Majilis said assets from other states had been mobilised to Johor to carry out investigation into 254 chemical factories in Pasir Gudang within the next three days.

Munirah said 29 investigators from Johor Department of Environment (DoE), for instance, had been divided into six teams tasked with the probe.

"The (Federal) DoE has been instructed to get additional help from other states. As of now, there are 13 teams made up of 40 investigators from other states are on the ball since early today.

"The police have also erected blockades within the area (district) to monitor the movement of illegal solid waste.


Some of the victims receiving treatment at the Taman Pasir Putih community hall in Pasir Gudang. - NSTP/MOHD AZREN JAMALUDIN

"The DoE will carry out a continuous sampling of water from at least three locations of illegal toxic dumping site at the headwaters and river streams of Sungai Kim Kim," Munirah said during debate on the extraordinary motion tabled by Hassan Abdul Karim (Pasir Gudang-PH) at the parliament today on whether there would be a need to declare a state of emergency.

Munirah also said Petronas also played a role in the operation through the use of its "air dispersal modular" which could have determine the toxic vaporisation, among others.

She also said four additional contractors have been hired for cleaning-up works

Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu said the army's chemical, biological, radioactive, nuclear, explosive (CBRNE) team is currently working to locate, identify and dispose the toxic source.

"The emergency combat unit is also on location. The situation is serious.

"The army stands ready, at any given time or necessity, to be there and work hard until the situation is back to normal."

Education Minister Maszlee Malik said apart from ensuring the safety of school children in the vicinity, the ministry would aid those affected by the crisis in monetary compensation.

"Students who were treated in hospitals will be insured under Takaful Insurance Malaysia and the ministry will aid them in making claims.


A woman is led to the Taman Pasir Putih community hall in Pasir Gudang after falling ill. - NSTP/ADI SAFRI.

"We have also mobilised our machinery from the state and district education departments to monitor the movement of school staff and children over concerns for their wellbeing."

He said the Johor State Disaster Management Committee had assisted the education ministry in managing related agencies.

"(For instance) we had worked together in managing the victims by converting the Taman Pasir Putih and Taman Mawar community halls as treatment operations centres."

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said as of now, a total of 1,568 cases of victims poisoned by the fumes had been reported.

Out of the number, 1,171 victims received outpatient treatment, 397 warded, including 13 being admitted into intensive care units.

Six psycho-social response teams had been mobilised to provide emotional support help counsel traumatised patients, and checks on food in the district to ensure safe consumption.

"As of now, only seven patients remain in the ICUs. Seventy patients (from the wards) had been discharged.

"We are also carrying our risk evaluation on water catchment areas as a pre-emptive measure. R95 masks are also being distributed because the (toxic) is oil-based solvent."

Dr Dzulkefly said so far no death had been reported.

"Do not believe in rumours about deaths. Please refer to official statements."

Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Salahuddin Ayub said agencies under his ministry had been working to provide support in the crisis.

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One of the victims was rushed to the Taman Pasir Putih community hall in Pasir Gudang for treatment. - NSTP/MOHD AZREN JAMALUDIN