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Singapore Endures Record Smog

Face mask-clad Singaporeans enduring record-breaking smog got some more bad news from their government on Thursday: The pollution may last awhile.

The choking smog that blanketed the city-state earlier this week, generated by burning clear-cutting fires in Indonesia, has gone well beyond the "hazardous" level on the Pollutant Standards Index, hitting 371 on Wednesday before coming back down to about 250. The previous record was 226, reached in 1997.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said at a news conference Thursday that it could "easily last several weeks and quite possibly longer until the dry season ends in Sumatra." He told residents to try to stay inside, adding, "We will get through this together."

As The Associated Press writes, while smog from Indonesia isn't unusual, hitting Singapore and Malaysia almost every year, "the severity of this week's conditions has strained diplomatic ties. Officials in Singapore say Jakarta must do more to halt fires on Sumatra island started by plantation owners and farmers to clear land cheaply."

The Independent says:

"The severity of this week's conditions threaten diplomatic ties between Singapore and Jakarta, with officials in the city state urging Indonesian authorities to do more to halt the fires on nearby Sumatra island started by plantation owners to clear land cheaply."

Singapore's environment minister, Vivian Balakrishnan, wrote on Facebook: "No country or corporation has the right to pollute the air at the expense of Singaporeans' health and wellbeing."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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