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It’s real hot

February 24, 2010

It’s hotter in Batu Arang

Submitted by Izat on Monday, February 22nd, 2010
Resting on a coal mine, townsfolk feel the heat most during day time
Monday, February 22nd, 2010 12:16:00 Malay Mail


PETALING JAYA: The current “long, hot summer-like” climate  has brought many Malaysians much  discomfort, with many ranting about being drenched in sweat.

However, if you think the heatwave is bad, spare a thought for the people of Batu Arang, Selangor.

The small town, located just after Rawang, derives its name from the many coal mines there.

A major coal-mining town during British rule, Batu Arang has long since become a sleepy hollow.

However, there is still coal beneath the ground, and the heat from the coal is giving the 12,000-odd residents something extra to sweat about.

Temperatures of 41 degrees Celsius in the afternoons is a regular feature there. Richard Tang, who has lived in Batu Arang all his life, said there are several reasons the temperature in Batu Arang is higher than many other areas in the country.

After all, he says, the town was built on coal.

“You just need to dig a mere 20 or 30 feet below and you’ll find coal,” said the 54-year-old.

“There are actually hundreds of coal mining tunnels below us and these tunnels were used in the past by coal  miners.”

Tang said in the past, in order to prevent the tunnels from collapsing, sand was poured in and pillars were built  in the tunnels to support the weight above. In addition, rainwater was used to fill up the mining ponds to provide added support.

But the current heatwave is now wreaking havoc on the town, as it is heating up the coal beneath, making life extremely uncomfortable for residents.

Tang believes that there is another reason for the extreme heat, and that is the deforestation several years ago.

Most residents, Tang said, stayed indoors during the day taking several more cold showers to counter the  heat.

Community activities have also been affected. The local secondary school, SK Batu Arang, still maintains their annual cross-country run, but parents are concerned about the effects on their children.

“My son’s school held its annual cross-country run recently. After running a distance, my son could not take it as the heat was too unbearable,” said Tang.

He added that although most of the townsfolk have more or less adapted to the heat, a lot of youngsters have been unable to enjoy outdoor activities and sports.

As for adults, most of them cannot bear staying indoors due to the stifling heat. As a result, they opt to hang out in coffee shops which have high ceilings with better ventilation.

“Only about five per cent of residents have air-conditioning. Some even just sit underneath the trees, where it’s much cooler.”

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