Dousing Southeast Asia's Big Burn

A milky haze caused by unchecked forest fires is floating over much of Southeast Asia, bringing the region to a near-standstill.

Daily life for millions of people in Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia has become almost unbearable.

The fires - many of them set to clear land - have blackened at least 740,000 acres in Indonesia alone. Most are on Kalimantan, the Indonesian side on the island of Borneo, and Sumatra.

Some meteorologists say El Nino, an abnormal weather pattern over the Pacific Ocean, has exacerbated the problem by delaying seasonal rain.

The smoke permeates hair and clothes. Many airports, schools, and offices have closed. Vehicles crawl along with headlights on in the dim daylights.

Malaysia, which sent more than 1,200 fire-fighters to Indonesia, is studying plans to spray water from tall buildings in its capital to dissolve pollutants.

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