Cold weather: Record lows kill 63, destroy rice crop

Cold weather: Record lows kill 63, destroy rice crop

Bangkok had coldest morning in 30 years on Thursday, when temperatures fell to 15.6 degrees Celsius.

Despite Bangkok recording the coldest night in three decades, protesters still sleep outside under the stars at Bangkok Shutdown protest sites, photo of Ratchaprasong rally site on Jan 16. (Photo: Thanarak Khoonton


Death toll mounts as cold spell continues


Online Reporters

Temperatures dropping to 2-3 C with frost possibly on the mountaintops of the North and Northeast.

The unusually long cold spell across the North, Northeast and Central regions has killed 63 people in the past three months and Bangkok has suffered its coldest night in three decades.

Sophon Mekthon, director general of the Disease Control Department, said on Thursday that the 63 fatalities were reported in 27 provinces between Oct 22, 2013 and Jan 19, 2014. 

Most of the fatalities were men. The youngest was a one-month-old baby and the oldest was a 81 years old. A Cambodian and a British national were also among the victims.

The northern border province of Chiang Rai had the most deaths, with six, followed by Sa Kaeo and Nakhon Ratchasima in the Northeast with five each.

Forty-five provinces have been declared cold-spell disaster zones and more than 25 million people have been affected by the cold weather.

Songkram Aksorn, deputy director general of the Meteorological Department, said Bangkok had its coldest morning in 30 years on Thursday, when the temperature fell to 15.6 degrees Celsius.

This year's cool season has been the longest for a decade, lasting almost three months, Mr Songkram said.

Narong Sahametapat, the permanent secretary for public health, said health officials in cold-struck provinces had been assigned to visit villages and take care of people, particularly children and the elderly.

He recommended and urged people in cold-hit areas to exercise regularly to improve blood circulation and consume food with high energy density as well as drink hot beverages. People should avoid caffeinated and alcoholic drinks.

The unusually long cool season, blamed on a cold front coming from the north, has also had an impact on Thailand's rice crop.

"The new rice harvest coming in is not of good quality, because it has flowered too early with this cool season's unusually low temperatures," said Vichai Sripraset, honorary president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association.

"When temperatures are low, fertilisation is bad, and then you get a lot of empty rice husks," he explained.

The cold weather has coincided with three months of almost daily street protests in the capital.

Leaders of anti-government protests said the low temperatures had not deterred people from joining the demonstrations. Many of them sleep out on the streets.

"It's been cold but not freezing, and Thai people generally enjoy cool weather the same way Westerners enjoy sunny skies," said Akanat Promphan, spokesman for the anti-government People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), which has been leading protests in the capital since early November.

Fire to warm up during a cold morning in the North.

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  • alcoholic beverage: a drink containing alcohol - สุรา
  • assign: to give a person a particular task or position - มอบหมาย, สั่งงาน
  • beverage: a drink of any type - เครื่องดื่ม
  • blood circulation: the moving of blood around the body - การไหลเวียนเลือด
  • border: the official line separating two areas, regions or countries - เขตแดน อาณาเขต
  • caffeinated: having the "caffeine" it it, the chemical in coffee and tea that makes a person stimulated and energetic -
  • capital: the most important town or city of a country, usually where the central government operates from - เมืองหลวง
  • coincide with: to happen at the same time as something else - เกิดขึ้นพร้อมกับ
  • consume: to eat, drink or use something - บริโภค
  • cool (adjective): not hot, not very cold - เย็น
  • crop: a plant grown for food, usually on a farm - พืชผล
  • daily (adj.): happening, done or produced every day - แต่ละวัน, ทุกวัน
  • decade: a period of ten years - ทศวรรษ
  • decades: periods of ten years - เป็นสิบๆปี
  • declare: to announce officially that something is true or happening - ประกาศ ยืนยัน
  • demonstration: an occasion when a group of people gather together to support or protest about something - การชุมนุม
  • density: the amount of something in a place - ความหนาแน่น
  • deputy: a person whose rank is immediately below that of the leader of an organisation - รอง
  • deter: to make someone decide not to do something - ขัดขวาง, ยับยั้ง, ป้องกัน
  • disaster: an unexpected event, such as a very bad accident, a flood or a fire, that kills a lot of people or causes a lot of damage - ภัยพิบัติ ความหายนะ
  • elderly: (of people) old - สูงวัย, อาวุโส, อายุมาก
  • energy: the physical and mental effort that you use to do something - กำลัง, พละกำลัง
  • exercise: physical activity such as running or weight lifting to make your body strong and healthy; physical training - การออกกำลังกาย
  • fatality: a death caused by an illness, accident, crime or war - การเสียชีวิต
  • fertilise (verb): to use fertiliser on a piece of land - ใส่ปุ๋ย
  • fertiliser: a natural or chemical substance which is spread on the land or given to plants, to make plants grow well - ปุ๋ย
  • freeze: to hold wages, prices, etc. at a fixed level for a period of time - อายัด (ราคา, เงินเดือน, etc.)
  • frost (noun): a weather condition in which the temperature drops below 0°C (= freezing point ) so that a thin white layer of ice forms on the ground and other surfaces, especially at night - น้ำค้างแข็ง, แม่คะนิ้ง (ภาษาถิ่นทางภาคเหนือ)
  • harvest (noun): the activity of collecting a crop - การเก็บเกี่ยวผลผลิต
  • honorary: given as an honour, without the person having to have the usual qualifications; not paid - ซึ่งให้เพื่อเป็นเกียรติ; กิตติมศักดิ์
  • husk: the outer covering of rice or some other grain - แกลบ, เปลือก
  • improve: to make better - ทำให้ดีขึ้น
  • meteorological: relating to the study and prediction of the weather - เกี่ยวกับทางอุตุนิยมวิทยา
  • Meteorological Department: the government department in charge of determining what the weather will be in the future - กรมอุตุนิยมวิทยา
  • mount: to increase - เพิ่มขึ้น
  • national: a citizen of a particular country - ประชาชน
  • officials: people who have the power to make decisions or enforce the law - เจ้าหน้าที่ผู้มีอำนาจ
  • particularly: especially, or more than usual - โดยเฉพาะ
  • permanent secretary: a government official, not a political appointee, in charge of a ministry - ปลัดกระทรวง
  • protest: a meeting or rally, sometimes forceful or violent, of people who strongly disagree with something - ชุมนุมประท้วง
  • province: one of many divisions of the government of a country into smaller parts - จังหวัด
  • public health (noun): the health of all the people in a country, city or community and their health issues; also the name of a government department - การสาธารณสุข
  • rally: a large public gathering of people to support someone or to protest against something - การชุมนุม
  • recommended: suggested; saying that something is very good or useful - เป็นที่แนะนำ
  • regularly: done or happening often, especially with the same time and space in between each activity and the next - เป็นประจำ, เสมอๆ
  • season (noun): a period of time during the year - ฤดูกาล, ช่วงเวลา, ระยะเวลา
  • site: a place where something is located - สถานที่
  • spell: a period of time when there is a particular type of weather - ช่วงเวลาที่มีอากาศลักษณะใดลักษณะหนึ่่ง
  • spokesman: a person who speaks on behalf of a group or an organization - โฆษก
  • struck (past of strike) (verb): hit forcefully or violently - ตี, กระแทก, ชน
  • suffer: to be badly affected by a very difficult or unpleasant situation - ประสบความลำบาก
  • temperature: a measurement of how hot or how cold a place or object is - อุณหภูมิ
  • toll: the number of deaths and injuries caused by a disaster, accident, disease, etc. - การสูญเสีย
  • urge: to advise someone very strongly about what action or attitude they should take - ผลักดัน, กระตุ้น
  • zone: an area that has an important or typical feature; an area where a particular activity is allowed or not allowed - พื้นที่, บริเวณ, เขต
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