With Doi Inthanon in Chiang Mai blanketed with frost and temperatures at -2 degrees Celsius early yesterday, the weather bureau issued a warning of thunderstorms with gusty winds and hail as well as an 8 to 10-degree Celsius drop in temperature until Sunday in upper Thailand.
The Cabinet gave the Interior Ministry the job of tackling problems related to the cold spell in the North and Northeast. It suggested areas that are under 15 degrees Celsius for three days in a row should be declared disaster zones so residents are entitled to an emergency aid, government spokesman Teerat Ratanasevi said.
The minimum temperature in Chiang Mai was recorded at 14 degrees Celsius yesterday with frost in some areas, while Chiang Rai and Phayao were at 19 degrees and Mae Hong Son at 11 degrees.
Temperatures in the North could drop by another 3 to 5 degrees during this period, Pensiri Trisat, an expert at the northern meteorological centre, said.
Chiang Mai Public Health Office deputy chief Surasing Visaruthrat has warned young people and the elderly, especially those in high-altitude areas or with chronic illness, to keep warm.
Buri Ram in the Northeast has also suffered a 4-degree drop in temperature to 15 degrees Celsius yesterday following two days of off-season rain. Provincial officials reported some 338,000 people were in need of warm clothing and blankets.
Poh Teck Tung and Sawang Janyatam foundations provided villagers in Buri Ram's Lahan Sai and Ban Kruat districts with 1,000 sets of blankets and relief items. They also delivered a 20,000-litre drinking water tank to Ban Somjit village in Lahan Sai's Khok Wan sub-district.
The first death caused by the cold spell was recorded in Udon Thani's Muang district, where Chuchat Khongwicha, 51, from Nakhon Ratchasima, was found dead in a tent early yesterday. Doctors believe he died from the cold and rain as he had fallen asleep in the tent after getting drunk. The cold also claimed a 62-year-old in Phrae's Muang district yesterday.