Blanket of haze hits North

Blanket of haze hits North

19 February 2012

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Thailand — Transport to much of Tak on the western border with Myanmar has been disrupted by worsening haze.

Local authorities said visibility has dropped to less than 500m in many parts of Muang, Mae Sot, Mae Ramat, Tha Song Yang and Phop Phra districts. Many drivers have been forced to turn on their headlights during the day.

Nok Air has suspended flights to Mae Sot for several days due to the thick haze. The airline instead lands in neighbouring Phitsanulok and provides passengers with a shuttle van service to the border district.

The low visibility has forced traffic to slow down to a crawl on many haze-affected routes into Tak.

Slash and burn farming, which is contributing to the haze, is clearly visible across many areas in Myawaddy, a border town opposite Mae Sot.

In Chiang Mai, haze has reached a critical level with visibility reduced to less than one kilometre. Many residents have suffered from facial rashes and eye irritation.

The provincial public health office has warned people to stay indoors and wear face masks outside the home.

In neighbouring Lamphun, residents were told not to burn garbage or dry weeds on their farmland. Some local administration offices have begun spraying water into the air to reduce dust particles.

In Lampang, more people have sought treatment for respiratory and heart illnesses aggravated by the haze.

Dr Natthapong Wongwiwat, deputy director of Lampang Hospital, said last week hospitals in many haze-affected districts were treating between 50% and 150% more patients with illnesses such as asthma.

In Phrae, air quality indicators have shown dust particles in the air are on the rise.

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