Haze hits Thai north, emergency measures issued

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 18, 2015 7:46 AM

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thai authorities said on Wednesday they had issued emergency measures across at least nine provinces as thick smoke caused by farmers burning vegetation to clear their fields chokes the north of the country.

Illegal burning of forests is a chronic problem during Thailand's February to May dry season. Known as 'haze', the phenomenon affects other countries in the region including Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.

Thick smoke has caused some flight delays in Chiang Mai, Thailand's largest city in the north, said Supot Tovichakchaikul, deputy permanent secretary of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

Thirty-five Royal Thai Army units have been deployed to help evacuate villagers. C-130 planes carrying water have also been deployed to douse burning locations.

Last year, Singapore's parliament passed a bill proposing to fine companies that pollute the country's air, regardless of whether the companies operated on the island.

The bill was drafted after Singapore suffered the worst haze on record last year as smoke from forest clearing in neighboring Indonesia shrouded the city.

(Reporting by Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)