CHIANG RAI – The smog in the North had thickened yesterday, prompting the cancellation of many flights and badly disrupting the lives of local residents.
A Thai Airways International flight was made to circle above Chiang Mai Airport before being forced to return to Bangkok because of poor visibility. Flight TG102, which was a Boeing 747, was far too large to land at other airports in the region, Chiang Mai airport official Jirayus Nonthawasee said.
Also vessels traversing the Mekong River near Chiang Rai’s Chiang Saen district had to slow down and honk frequently because visibility had reduced to barely a kilometre.
The Pollution Control Department (PCD) is now providing hourly updates on air quality and pollution in nine provinces in the North via air4thai.pcd.go.th. The reports are in Thai.
According to reports, small dust particles in the air have been detected in all nine provinces. Though the air in Tak is slightly clearer, people in Mae Hong Son’s Muang district are suffering badly.
Somchai Rungsakhon, chief of Mae Sai district in Chiang Rai, said Thai and Myanmar authorities were checking out the so-called hot spots, where farmers set fire to weeds and wood to clear land, and learned that there were fewer of them this year.
Police officers and rangers are also patrolling on the Thai side of the border to ensure no bonfires are set during the summer months to minimise the risk of jungle fires, he said. He explained that since Chiang Rai was a valley, it was difficult for the smog to be blown away quickly.
Somchai also said the authorities at the Tachilek border crossing were planning to reduce the number of vehicles allowed to go across in order to cut down on exhaust fumes. The authorities in Myanmar are also campaigning against farmers setting fire to clear land because the smog is affecting tourism, he added.