Thousands evacuated in Thailand after toxic fumes engulf residents

Thousands evacuated in Thailand after toxic fumes engulf residents

THAILAND - Provincial officials ordered the evacuation of residents from about 1,500 homes in Samut Prakan after a fire at a local garbage dump yesterday was declared a disaster area, and toxic fumes spread to many parts of the province and nearby areas in Bangkok.

Kanit Iamrahong, the governor of Samut Prakan, said yesterday that three communities closest to the dump, with 1,480 families, had been evacuated.

The governor declared Tambon Praeksa in Samut Prakan's Muang district, where the burning dump site is located, a disaster area.

Many of the people evacuated were sent to the Tambon Praeksa administrative organisation office.

The Pollution Control Department tested the air quality in areas around the burning dump and found harmful substances, such as sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide and some carcinogenic chemicals.

Harmful to the respiratory system

Department director general Vichian Jungrungruang said that toxic fumes were harmful to the respiratory system and could cause eye irritations. And some of the gases caused by the fire could cause cancer.

He advised children, the elderly and people with heart disease or high blood pressure to avoid breathing in the toxic gases, warning that some were deadly.

His department would monitor the air quality in the affected areas and report the results to the public, the director-general said.

The agency yesterday urged people living within a 1.5km radius of the burning dump to move away from the area. Among the communities and housing estates nearby are Gallery, Natura, Sukhumvit-Praeksa, Baan Sawasdee, Supalai Ville, Panthiya, and Sap Thani.

The fire began at around noon on Sunday at the former dump in Bang Pu industrial estate. The site, covering an area of 150 rai, has been abandoned for more than 10 years, according to local authorities.

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