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Thai south put on haze alert after the number of burning hotspots in Indonesia

Trang is one of seven provinces to brace for haze over the next few days. (Photo by Methee Muangkaew). Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

Pan Pacific Agency | COMMUICATION AGENCY FOR PACIFICA REGIONS

BANGKOK, Sep 19, 2019, Bangkok Post. The Pollution Control Department (PCD) on Thursday warned seven southern provinces to brace for worsening haze after the number of burning hotspots in Indonesia rose rapidly, reported the Bangkok Post.

The Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC) has issued a “red alert” for Indonesia’s Sumatra and Kalimantan.

PDC chief Pralong Damrongthai said PM 2.5 air pollution levels in areas of the South rose above the safe limit of 50 microgrammes per cubic metre on Thursday.

Worst hit was Songkhla’s Hat Yai with a level of 70mg/cubic metre, while Yala’s Muang district registered 58. Smog levels are projected to rise over the next few days due to the growing number of hotspots detected in Indonesia, he said.

Hat Yai is suffering the worst air quality in the southern region, with residents reporting lung problems since the start of this month.

Mr Pralong said the PCD has advised governors in Trang, Songkhla, Satun, Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and Phattalung to brace for haze over the next few days, and told them to prepare safe zones to limit health impacts from breathing the toxic smog.

In Yala, many residents donned face mask on Thursday as the Nakhon Yala municipality warned of rising fine-dust levels.

Songkran Maichum, the provincial public health chief, advised people to avoid lengthy outdoor exercise and those working outside buildings to wear masks.

Recent satellite images show the number of hotspots in Indonesia has risen from 579 to 589. That trend is likely to continue, with the ASMC forecasting winds from the south and dry weather for Sumatra and Kalimantan for the next few days. As such, hazy conditions are expected to persist in many parts of the region.

ASMC advisories gauge trans-boundary haze in terms of three levels.

Sumatra and Kalimantan have been issued with the highest level 3 advisory after the number of hotspots there rose above 250 for two consecutive days, with dry weather persisting and prevailing winds blowing towards Asean countries.

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