Indonesia envoy called for meeting as haze chokes Phuket

Indonesia envoy called for meeting as haze chokes Phuket

Haze clouds the skies of Phuket. (photo by Achadtaya Chuenniran)
Haze clouds the skies of Phuket. (photo by Achadtaya Chuenniran)

The Foreign Ministry has invited Indonesia’s ambassador for a meeting on forest fires in that country that created unhealthy haze in Phuket for a second day Thursday.

Haze that has affected seven southern provinces in recent days was at its worst in the island resort province on Thursday with airborne particulate matter measured at 201 microgrammes per cubic metre of air, over 50% above the highest safe level of 120.

Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai said before leaving for China that he hoped authorities meeting with ambassador Lutfi Rauf would work out short and long-term solutions to the annual haze problem, caused by slash-and-burn agriculture on Sumatra island and its part of Borneo island.

Thai officials also raised the issue for discussion in an Asean senior officials' meeting in Kuala Lumpur and would do the same again in the Asean Ministerial Meeting on Environment in Hanoi from Oct 27-29, Mr Don said.

The Pollution Control Department reported that haze continues to linger over Narathiwat, Pattani, Phuket, Satun, Songkhla, Surat Thani, and Yala. Only in Phuket, however, did it breach the unhealthy threshold.

In Malaysia and Singapore, haze has closed schools and prompted the cancellation of public events. On Thursday, Indonesia reversed its earlier stance and agreed to accept international help to combat and agricultural fires, AFP reported.

Vitavas Srivihok, deputy permanent secretary for foreign affairs, quoted the Indonesian ambassador as saying that the forest fires were too serious for Indonesia to handle alone and it needed assistance from other Asean-member states.

He said that Thailand was ready to help and would wait for Indonesia to work out details of the assistance it needed.

He also quoted the ambassador as apologising for the impacts on Thailand and other nearby countries.

In Narathiwat, pollution levels were at 68μg per cu/m, up from 56; 58μg per cu/m in Pattani, down from 69; 61μg per cu/m in Satun, down from 73; 86μg per cu/m in Songkhla, down from 108; 108μg per cu/m in Surat Thani, up from 93; and 47μg per cu/m in Yala, down from 60.

Normal levels in the South come in at below 40μg per cu/m.

Thursday evening pollution levels stood at 67μg per cu/m in Narathiwat, 64μg per cu/m in Pattani, 186μg per cu/m in Phuket, 56μg per cu/m in Satun, 85μg per cu/m in Songkhla, 113μg per cu/m in Surat Thani, and 45μg per cu/m in Yala.

Pollution levels can be monitored online at Air4Thai.pcd.go.th or via the Air4Thai application.


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