Hai Yai — The southern Thai provinces of Yala and Songkhla have been hit by haze from Indonesia’s forest fires, with the PM2.5 air quality readings there exceeding the safety level of 50.
According to the Pollution Control Department on Thursday (Sep 19), the PM2.5 level in Hai Yai, Songkhla was at 77 microgrammes (mcg) per cubic metre of air, the highest of the nine southern provinces being monitored by the agency.
The PM2.5 reading was 59 in Mueang District in Yala province. These numbers were an improvement from Wednesday, when the readings hit 100mcg, double the designated safe limit in Thailand.
Haze Watch for Southern Thailand, an air pollution research centre in Songkhla, urged residents in Songkhla, Satun, Yala and Pattani to refrain from outdoor activities, reported Associated Press. Health officials in Yala were also seen handing out free masks to people on the streets.
Thai authorities said the level of air pollution has risen since Sep 5, but worsened in the last few days Illegal fires to clear land for agricultural plantations are blazing out of control on Indonesia’s Sumatra and Borneo islands, with Jakarta deploying thousands of security forces and water-bombing aircraft to tackle them.