Thailand — His Majesty the King is worried about the haze in the North and has instructed the president of the Rajaprajanigroh Foundation to visit affected areas, a senior official said yesterday.
The Pollution Control Department yesterday reported that atmospheric levels of fine-particle dust, or PM 10, were unsafe in all nine upper northern provinces.
Officials in Chiang Rai’s Mae Sai district prepared to evacuate residents of tall buildings as PM10 reached a dangerous level of 357 micrograms per cubic metre (mg/m3) – way above the “safe” level of 120 mg/m3.
Song Klinpathum, chief of the Northern Royal Rainmaking Operations Centre, said the King instructed the president of the Rajaprajanigroh Foundation to visit Chiang Mai this week to help local authorities tackle the problem.
Song said the rainmaking centre continued to add humidity to the air, with two flights yesterday to sprinkle humidity-boosting chemicals in Chiang Mai, Lampang and Lamphun, as humidity levels weren’t high enough to allow the use of rain-making chemicals.
He said while the weather had cooled in the North, a low-pressure system in the area made conditions unsuitable for rainmaking.
Continued unsafe dust levels were reported yesterday in Chiang Rai and eight other northern provinces. Mae Sai district chief Sopon Choom said he had prepared a plane to evacuate residents in the event the province is declared a disaster zone. The district had contacted owners of tall buildings about the evacuation plan, which would cover more than 100,000 evacuees, he said.
In Lampang, the PM 10 level at the air quality station at Ban Thasi Health Promotion Hospital in Mae Mo district was 247 mg/m3.
In Tak, Phop Phra district chief Phot Rhuworanan said haze in the area – where many residents continue to light fires outdoors despite a ban – was made worse by farm clearing and outdoor burning in neighbouring Burma.
He said officials were offering a reward of Bt5,000 to people who provide information about others doing outdoor burns or starting forest fires, while Tak Governor Suriya Prasatbundit was planning to contact officials in Myawaddy, in Burma opposite Mae Sot, to ask them to control forest fires and stop residents lighting fires outdoors.
In Lampang’s Ngao district, meanwhile, a forest fire broke out in a 200-rai area along Ngao-Phayao Road at 2pm yesterday. And in Chiang Mai’s Doi Suthep-Pui National Park, a 15-rai forest fire was reported late yesterday. A poacher was suspected to have started the blaze.