Malaysia may declare a state of emergency today because of sharply worsening haze pollution. Information Minister Mohamad Rahmat, who also heads the National Disaster Relief and Management Committee, said air quality in Kuala Lumpur came within three points of the 'very unhealthy' level and visibility in the Straits of Malacca fell below 500 metres. Weathermen warned vessels lacking navigational aids to avoid the straits, one of the world's busiest shipping lanes, and the west coast of Sarawak. The haze has been blamed on smoke carried by winds from fires burning in Sumatra and Kalimantan, where efforts will be made to induce rainfall through cloud-seeding to clear the haze. The Air Pollutant Index reached a level of 198 in Kuala Lumpur and 204 in Gombak, a few kilometres to the north. A reading of 101 to 200 is considered unhealthy, up to 300 very unhealthy and to 500 hazardous. The Borneo states of Sabah and Sarawak, directly in the path of smoke blowing from Indonesian Kalimantan in the south, have been badly affected, with the reading in Kuching, capital of Sarawak, hitting 243 on Friday. Malaysia Airlines flights to the two states, including international flights, have been delayed or cancelled. Indonesian internal flights have been severely disrupted. The airport in Jambi, Sumatra, which has been closed for two weeks, recorded visibility of 100 metres yesterday. The teachers' union in Sarawak yesterday urged Malaysia's education ministry to declare emergency school holidays so children could stay indoors to reduce their exposure to respiratory complaints and rashes. In Singapore, the Government said the elderly and sick should stay inside and avoid exercise. Four doctors surveyed by The Sunday Times said the number of patients with respiratory problems had surged by 20 per cent since the haze started a month ago.