Thailand — The provincial governordeclared Friday that Chiang Mai has passed through its haze crisis and thenorthern city is now no longer a natural disaster zone after having beenengulfed in thick smoke for nearly three weeks.
In a statement announcing the liftingthe province’s disaster zone status, Chiang Mai governor Vichai Srikwanexplained that the air pollution problem has eased dramatically and that airquality has been restored to a normal level.
However, he said, the city authoritiesremain on alert to prevent illegal burning in forest areas and other open airburning activities, the major cause of the city’s air pollution crisis.
Chiang Mai was declared anenvironmental disaster zone on March 20 after city residents were trapped in theheavy smoke for more than two weeks. During that time, hazardous particlesexceeded the acceptable level and threatened public health.
The number of people suffering from respiratory problem has risen to thousands.
In neighbouring Chiang Rai province,Kittirat Sonsue, head of the provincial prevention and litigation office saidthe haze problem has eased and air quality is much improved, having returned tonormal after two days of heavy downpours.
The dust particles registered at alevel of 75 microgrammes per cubic metre on Friday, lower than thestandard level of 120 microgrammes per cubic metre.
Mr. Kittirat said he would ask theprovincial governor to lift the disaster zone soon. However, the ban on burningremains in place to prevent a recurrence of the haze.