Malaysia shuts 34 schools with poisonings 'getting more critical'

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KUALA LUMPUR (March 13): Malaysia has shut 34 schools after a suspected chemical leak last week left more than 200 children, teachers and others being treated for poisoning, the education ministry said on Wednesday.

Authorities believe the poisoning was caused by toxic waste dumped into a river near the schools in the southern state of Johor.

"Unfortunately, I was told today that the situation is getting more critical," Education Minister Maszlee Malik said in a statement on his official Facebook page.

The number of people treated climbed to 207 compared to 35 reported last week. As of Monday, 44 were in hospital where six were in intensive care. Thirty-three of them are pupils.

"I've ordered for all schools within a three-kilometre radius be shut immediately," Maszlee said.