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Worst haze crisis in 17 years hits Thailand's South

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INDONESIA'S FOREST FIRES
South's worst haze

The Nation

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Health of locals threatened as particulate matter far exceeds safe level; Flight to Trang and Krabi hit ; Indonesia apologetic

BANGKOK: -- THE WORST haze crisis in 17 years hit Songkhla’s Hat Yai district hard yesterday, with the amount of PM10 particles far exceeding the safe level.


As of yesterday, the amount of particulate matter (PM) of up to 10 microns in size (PM10) reached 369.0 micrograms per cubic metre of air in Hat Yai, the economic hub of Thailand's South.

People are considered safe only when the PM10 does not rise above 120 micrograms.

In 1998, the PM10 in Songkhla skyrocketed to 459.5 micrograms per cubic metre of air. Locals had hoped that such a seriously hazy situation would never recur.

But yesterday, although the PM10 did not yet beat the previous record, air pollutants were clearly visible in Hat Yai, even to the naked eye. The problem is widely blamed on Indonesia's forest fires.

Officials in Songkhla province were busy handing out facial masks to help locals cope with the health impacts.

Government Spokesman Maj-General Sansern Kaewkamnerd said Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-ocha had already instructed family-medicine teams to visit affected people.

"People need to get proper healthcare," he said, "They also need to get advice. For example, they should avoid staying outdoors with the haze raging on. If they develop tightness in the chest or have difficulty breathing, they should immediately seek medical help".

According to Sansern, the prime minister is very concerned about the haze, which has blanketed Thailand's South. All relevant authorities are now ordered to closely monitor the situation and extend help to people.

"Local administrative bodies, on their part, can help ease the pollution by spraying water in the air," the government spokesman said.

Sansern said the government has already contacted Indonesia about the haze, and Indonesia said it was sorry about the pollution caused.

Yesterday, haze was also a major problem in at least five other southern provinces: Satun struggled with a PM10 of 276 micrograms; Pattani with PM10 211 micrograms; Surat Thani with PM10 of 187 micrograms; Yala with PM10 of 172 micrograms; and Narathiwat with PM10 of 123 micrograms.

As haze significantly reduced visibility, flight services to and from Thailand's South have been affected.

Executives of schools in Songkhla are now allowed to decide whether temporary closure is necessary should the PM10 rise above 350 micrograms.

So far, Songkhla has not been declared a disaster-hit zone as authorities are worried that such a declaration may affect local tourism.

Halem J Marigan, director of the Regional Environmental Office 16 (Songkhla), yesterday evening said there were signs of improvement.

"The average PM10 amount during the past 24 hours has finally reduced. It dropped from 369 to 365 micrograms per cubic metre of air if we concluded the measurement at 4pm Thursday," he said.

He believed stronger winds had benefited Thailand, as the haze was pushed away faster.

In Surat Thani, several flights to Samui Airport were delayed yesterday because of the haze.

"Many flights could not land in the morning. They had to wait until the afternoon," said Surat Thani Governor Wongsiri Promchana.

He said he had also advised locals to turn on the headlights of their vehicles when driving in hazy areas.

Wongsiri said all tourist attractions were still open as normal as of now.

Flight services in the southern provinces of Trang and Krabi are also affected.

In Trang, locals yesterday urged relevant authorities to help tackle the haze problem that had recurred every now and then.

"It has affected us adversely. I feel uncomfortable because the haze has made it hard for me to breathe," Areerat Boonprasert, 52, said.

Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/Souths-worst-haze-30271420.html

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-- The Nation 2015-10-23

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So far, Songkhla has not been declared a disaster-hit zone as authorities are worried that such a declaration may affect local tourism.

Never mind the health and safety of residents and visitors, let's focus on the most important thing, making money.

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I also worry about the coming slash and burn in Northern Thailand. Next March and April might be particulary dry.

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"Sansern said the government has already contacted Indonesia about the haze, and Indonesia said it was sorry about the pollution caused."

What an arch bit of hypocrisy. The Thai Government allows fires to pollute Chiang Mai every year then complain to Indonesia about their fires.

The fires are getting worse each year in Chiang Mai because of contract farming growing corn for Thailand's largest food producers. Naturally no pressure is brought to bear on these producers and influential businessmen.

That lives are actually in danger and thousands are treated as a result of the dense smoke seems of no concern.

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These guys are born pessimists. Never do they say anything good about the 9 months of the year when the air is breatheable. But they never stop whining about the 3 months when the air is choking.

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Nothing can be done here in Thailand physically that is to reduce the smog down South. However things can be put in place to stop the smog in the North this coming burning season. But nothing will get done as usual.

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Worst haze crisis in 17 years hits Thailand's South

It's also pretty thick in Pattaya, especially when viewed from a 15th floor balcony or when attempting to inhale.

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"...yesterday evening said there were signs of improvement...

The average PM10 amount during the past 24 hours has finally reduced. It dropped from 369 to 365 micrograms..."

Thats the sign of improvement?? A drop of 4 micrograms?? Such a small amount is changing on every measurement, as the concentration is not exactly 369 on a wide area.

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About 13 yrs ago there was an article in the Bkk Post about solar energy. Someone at EGAT was quoted as saying "we have to study the issue because Thailand may have too much sunlight to make solar feasible."

Anyhow, on topic: If the haze is 'worst in 17 years' then what about when the smokey season really kicks in .....in March and April ?!?

What would Smokey the Bear do? Probably go up to Siberia and get ready to hibernate, except the Chinese would kill him on the way up and yank out his bile to sell at the local apothecary.

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DDPM says southern smog improves

BANGKOK, 23 October 2015 (NNT) - The Ministry of Interior has revealed the haze situation in the South of Thailand has improved.


Interior Minister General Anupong Paojinda said his ministry has been instructed by Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha to help southern residents affected by the smog. The Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM) and the Office of Local Administration have prepared the necessary equipment to contain the haze situation.

According to the Interior Minister, Surat Thani, Songkhla, Satun, Pattani and Yala are still struggling to cope with the smog. Local officials will spray water to mitigate air pollution, while distributing face masks to local residents. Schools will be allowed to close if the air density exceeds 350 micrograms per cubic meters.

DDPM Director General Chatchai Promlert said the smog situation in the South, especially in Songkhla, has gradually improved. However, it is still difficult to keep the haze under control.

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-- NNT 2015-10-23 footer_n.gif

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These guys are born pessimists. Never do they say anything good about the 9 months of the year when the air is breatheable. But they never stop whining about the 3 months when the air is choking.

Asinine comment. How about we put a plastic bag over your head for 15 minutes so you can't breathe and when you complain we'll say "Well, what about the 23.75 hours during the rest of the day when you could,stop complaining you pessimist!" Next time you are minded to comment,stop,think,post something different....or better still,nothing at all.

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same old stuff year after year,

"Local administrative bodies, on their part, can help ease the pollution by spraying water in the air,",what about saving water?

I guess saving water only works for the rest of the people in Thailand

I wonder if the people(gov) who make these ststements,went to the school on how to open mouth and insert foot,seems like they passed with flying colors

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On the bright side, beef jerky prepared outside now gets a nice smoky flavor.

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