Air in Mae Sai thick with dust

Chiang Rai's Mae Sai district was blanketed by 441.6 micrograms/|cubic metres (ug/m3) of fine particle dust for a second day in a row yesterday, while six other provinces suffered from PM10 dust above the safety level of 120 ug/m3, the Pollution Control Department said yesterday.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra expressed concerns over the situation at the Cabinet meeting yesterday. She instructed the Interior, Agriculture and Science ministries to have teams visit the affected areas and launch a campaign to stop fires from being lit outdoors and implement harsher punishment for violators.

Downtown Chiang Rai recorded 226.5 ug/m3, Mae Hong Son 344.8 ug/m3, and Chiang Mai reported 187.4 ug/m3 downtown and 192.5 ug/m3 at City Hall. Lamphun had readings of 179.1 ug/m3, Lampang 120 ug/m3 to 135.9 ug/m3, Nan 126.3 ug/m3 and Tak 122.8 ug/m3.

The Northern Meteorological Centre, meanwhile, expects a moderate high-pressure ridge from China to cover the upper part of Thailand from March 23-25 resulting in rainstorms with possible hail in the Northeast and the East.

Chiang Rai-based weather forecaster Sawaeng Jaiyai said satellite images showed many hot spots, especially in the country's eastern region along the Burma and Laos-border as well as Chiang Mai's Fang and Mae Ai districts and Chiang Rai's mountainous areas.

Visibility is about 1,500 metres due to the haze. Water sprayed by Phitsanulok Wing 146's three flights yesterday was not able to introduce much humidity.

Chiang Rai's tourism director Atcharipa Maneesin lamented that many Japanese tourists had changed their travel plans to avoid the haze.

Lamphun Hospital director Dr Thani Limthong said patients suffering from haze-related problems had risen by 10 per cent to about 100 people daily.