Thailand — After struggling with a month of severe pollution caused by manmade fires in the North, the Mae Hong Son forest office ordered a hunt for the arsonists yesterday.
A control station in Muang district reported that 28 fire ignited since February 3 had destroyed 133 rai of fertile forests. Last year, some 29 fires were reported, which destroyed 105 rai of forestland, station chief Chai Chaisiri said.
Meanwhile, a 76yearold Lampang native who suffered from severe asthma hanged herself yesterday because she could no longer bear the suffering, the House was told yesterday as part of an urgent motion raised by the Opposition.
Democrat MP for Tak Thanitphol Chaiyanant said Jansom Saikhruakham’s death could have been prevented if the government had done something more to deal the smog problem, which is worsening.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Preecha Rengsomboonsuk said the governors of the nine smoghit provinces had been instructed to take action, but did not provide details on the action taken and the expected success.
He said districts where dust particles exceeded the safety limit would be declare highrisk zones, but so far, no such areas have been named despite the rising number of reports of health hazards and numerous cases of people suffering from respiratory problems and red eye.
Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry has called on neighbouring countries to control manmade fires on their soil, he added.
Chiang Mai authorities will meet Burmese officials on Saturday to discuss the problem, and any local officials found being negligent in tacking the problem will be penalised, PM’s Office Minister Woravat Auapinyakul said.
Nok Air, meanwhile, has cut its five daily flights to Mae Hong Son down to four due to poor visibility, acting director of Mae Hong Son airport Thanissara Singhakul said yesterday. However, Kant Air is still able to provide five flights a day because it uses smaller aircraft that can fly at lower altitudes, she added.
Up to 2,800 people seek treatment for breathing problems every day in the seven hardesthit provinces, the provincial public health office in Chiang Mai reported.
The number of small particles detected in Lampang was 236.88 microgram per cubic metre of air yesterday, while the average pollution in seven provinces exceeded the safety standard at 120mcg per cubic metre, though none have been announced as areas of high risk as claimed by Preecha.