Myanmar asked to help in northern Thailand haze crisis

Myanmar asked to help in northern Thailand haze crisis

THAILAND has asked for Myanmar's co-operation in tackling forest fires in the haze-hit northern region and to inform Thailand of outdoor burning or wildfires in advance so the authorities can build fire buffer zones, a senior officer of the Pha-muang Task Force said yesterday.

Colonel Prapat Popsuwan said the request was made at a meeting yesterday between the Thai-Myanmar Township Border Committee in Chiang Rai province to discuss the northern haze crisis.

Representing Myanmar, Lt-Colonel Tin Min Lat agreed to give the matter special attention as his country was also affected by the haze and many commercial flights had to be cancelled.

Meanwhile, the haze situation in the northern province remained critical, with Chiang Rai yesterday morning reporting fine suspended particulates of less than 10 microns in diameter (PM10) at 381 micrograms per cubic metre.

According to the Pollution Control Department as of 9am yesterday, Mae Hong Son province reported 236mcg per cubic metre, Phayao reported 228mcg, Lamphun 215mcg, Lampang 186mcg, Nan 181mcg, Tak 158mcg and Phrae 142mcg.

In Chiang Mai, the City Hall station reported 166mcg and the Yupparat Witthayalai School station reported 162mcg.

The PM10 readings in these provinces were slightly lower later yesterday but were still beyond the safety limit, which requires the PM10 to be under 120mcg per cubic metre.

Chiang Rai also reported a two-fold increase in the number of people having respiratory difficulty; 120 people sought medical treatment for haze-affected illness a day.

Two national parks in Chiang Rai - Lam Nam Kok National Park 2 and Doi Luang National Park - were also closed until next month in a bid to prevent wildfires, said park official Boonta Saennang.

Park officials yesterday fought a wildfire in Mae Khao Tom forest in Muang district, which had been blazing for three days.

It could take a few more days to extinguish the fire, which has already engulfed dozens of rai, because the affected area is in a valley with high cliffs, Boonta said.

This fire, allegedly started by a poacher, was the third wildfire in the area so far this year. The previous fires damaged 100 rai (16 hectares) in Bang Raong Pa Khao and 80 rai at Prong Phra Bat waterfall, he said.

Ban Bor Thong village headman Boonpeng Mul-aey said the fire spread from Ban Pa Teung forest in Mae Chan district.

He claimed it was not caused by a villager because they were all informed of the ban on outdoor burning and the area's farmers have also decided not to grow corn this year.

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