Forest fires in northern Thailand are threatening to worsen the country’s air pollution, which has sent nearly 2 million people to hospitals with respiratory illnesses since the beginning of the year.
Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha on Thursday ordered urgent steps to put out forest fires in Nakhon Nayok province in the east of the capital, Bangkok, and those in the country’s northern region, including Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, government spokesman Anucha Burapachasri said.
Firefighters and other officials have been deployed to monitor the affected areas, as burning of farmlands and illegal foraging occur during this time of the year, Anucha said in a statement.
A mountain known as Khao Laem in Nakhon Nayok that was engulfed in flames since Wednesday had been brought under control, the government said.
Several wildfires are also reported from protected forests in Thailand’s north, with several hotspots across the borders in Myanmar and Laos, a satellite heat map provided by a Thai space agency showed.
The wildfires are the latest cause for the worsening air quality in Thailand that has pushed levels of particulate dust particles known as PM2.5 in some areas past unhealthy threshold into a hazardous zone.
Bangkok and other Thai cities have grappled with poor air quality in the past few years, with pollution tending to get worse in the dry season from December to February due largely to agricultural burning in Thailand and neighboring countries, and vehicular emissions.
Prayuth urged ASEAN to take steps to tackle the trans-boundary haze situation that stems mainly from hotspots across the region, Anucha said in a separate statement.
Chiang Mai was ranked as the world’s most polluted city by air quality monitor IQAir earlier on Thursday, with a “very unhealthy” PM2.5 concentration reading.
Its neighboring province Chiang Rai had a “hazardous” reading for most of the past seven days, IQAir data showed.
SOUTH CHINA SEA SPAT: The image bolsters a Philippine Coast Guard assertion that Chinese inflatable boats deployed floating barriers at the shoal’s entrance last week Satellite images of the hotly disputed Scarborough Shoal (Huangyan Island, 黃岩島) in the South China Sea show a new floating barrier across its entrance, near where Philippine ships and Chinese coast guard vessels have had frequent run-ins. One of the images taken by Maxar Technologies on Thursday last week and viewed by Reuters showed the barrier blocking the mouth of the shoal, where the Chinese coast guard last week claimed to have driven off a Philippine vessel “illegally intruding” into Beijing’s waters. Manila, which last week deployed a Philippine Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) vessel to patrol the shoal and
Satoshi Kirishima spent almost half a century evading arrest, until mortality intervened. As deathbed confessions go, his was astonishing: Having lived a double life as a construction worker, the 70-year-old was admitted last month to a hospital near Tokyo where he told staff he was one of Japan’s most-wanted fugitives. In a more recent image provided to Japanese media by an acquaintance, it is just possible to discern a resemblance with the black-and-white photograph that has adorned Japanese police boxes for decades showing a bespectacled, smiling university student with shoulder-length hair. While he shared details of his family and his organization that only
‘RUSSIA CANNOT WIN’: The French president declined to say which nations were considering sending troops, saying he prefers to maintain some ‘strategic ambiguity’ French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday said that sending Western troops on the ground in Ukraine is not “ruled out” after the issue was debated at a gathering of European leaders in Paris, as Russia’s full-scale invasion grinds into a third year. The French leader said that “we will do everything needed so Russia cannot win the war” after the meeting of more than 20 European heads of state and government, and other Western officials. “There’s no consensus today to send in an official, endorsed manner troops on the ground, but in terms of dynamics, nothing can be ruled out,” Macron said
CHINA LINKS: A report said that there were concerns about the loyalty of Qiu Xiangguo and Cheng Keding due to their direct contact with entities linked to China Two scientists at Canada’s top infectious disease laboratory lost their jobs after reviews found that they failed to protect sensitive assets and information, and failed to acknowledge collaborations with China, newly released records showed. The scientists, Qiu Xiangguo (邱香果) and her husband, Cheng Keding (成克定), were stripped of their security clearances in 2019 at Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory over questions about their loyalty to Canada, and the potential for coercion or exploitation by a foreign entity, the documents say. More than 600 pages were made public on Wednesday following a special all-party review of the records. The records show that the Canadian Security