All over Malaysia, the Air Pollution Index rises to alarmingly hazardous levels. In the Malaysian state of Sarawak these API numbers hit record levels. Visibility is reduced to a metre or less. Faced with this escalation of the catastrophe, the Prime Minister is forced to declare a State of Emergency. All over the state, schools, government offices and many shops are closed. Construction and industry grind to a halt. In just six days, 10,000 people seek treatment for haze related complaints. As the haze thickens, families are under siege. Those that can afford to, flee their own homes.
The Malaysia government are under intense pressure to do something to rid the nation of the haze. They try all kinds of desperate remedies. The human and economic damage is catastrophic – and Prime Minister Dr Mahathir searches desperately for a solution. As the haze tightens its grip, the head of the Malaysian fire and rescue department comes up with an ingenious plan to send a team of Malaysian firefighters across to Indonesia. Sent to the depths of over 25 long torturous days these ill-equipped and underprepared firemen fight a desperate battle with the fires raging across Sumatra and Kalimantan. Operation Haze is the biggest cross border firefighting mission in history.
Miraculously, with the help of monsoon rains, they succeed - the haze is eventually defeated.
At the end of it all a total of between 8 - 10 million hectares of forest cover is destroyed, an estimated 40,000 people seek hospital treatment and many deaths are reported, tourism is severely impacted and an estimated up to 10 billion US dollars in losses are recorded across the region.
This documentary tell the story of one of the worst environmental disasters in history for the first time, the stories of people who lived through the deadly haze attack and the heroic firefighters who fought to douse the fires. The 97 haze was a turning point – a pivotal moment that forced both politicians and scientists to join forces to defeat the menace of Asia's Killer Haze.