Thailand — The government will take severe punitive action against those responsible for the slashing and burning of forests blamed for the haze pollution in the North, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra says.
Ms Yingluck yesterday expressed concern for the health of residents affected by the haze.
“I have instructed ministers to step up efforts to solve the problem and help residents,” she wrote on her Facebook page.
“The government will take tough action to arrest those responsible for the burning of forests,” she said.
“Kindly keep an eye out and alert the authorities.”
The Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation reported yesterday that Chiang Rai still recorded the highest level of particles in the air at 258.63 microgrammes per cubic metre, followed by Mae Hong Song (236.38) and Phrae (200.38).
The pollution is believed to stem from both forest fires and fires that farmers set alight on their fields to prepare for new crops.
Public Health Minister Witthaya Buranasiri said the ministry is considering a plan to evacuate people from areas where the level of particles has reached 300 microgrammes per cubic metre, or close to it.
Hospitals are ready to receive patients who face health problems from the spreading haze.
In Tak province, areas in Mae Sot and nearby districts were still covered by thick haze.
Poor visibility in the morning has forced Nok Air to reschedule departure times for Suvarnabhumi-Mae Sot flights.
The new departure time is 3pm from the original 10.30am.
Flights from Mae Sot to Suvarnabhumi will depart at 4.35pm.
Tak governor Suriya Prasartbandid said he had told officials to work with their counterparts in Myanmar to tackle the haze resulting from fires on both sides of the border.
Meanwhile, a fire broke out at a holding centre for Karen refugees in Phop Phra district yesterday.
The fire destroyed one hut. Police said a lit candle left unattended in the hut caused the fire.
Firefighters managed to prevent the blaze spreading.
There were no reports of injuries.
On Feb 23, more than 200 huts at the refugee camp were burnt to the ground in a fire. Nobody was hurt in that blaze.