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31 Thai provinces bracing for “severe drought”

Greeley Pulitzer

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31 Thai provinces bracing for “severe drought” | The Thaiger
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The drought situation across nearly half of Thailand is about to get worse. The water levels in the Mekong River is at its lowest level since 1992 and the Provincial Waterworks Authority is warning 31 provinces to prepare for severe drought this year.

Thai PM Prayuth Chan-o-cha is expressing concern over the situation and instructed officials to distribute water to people in areas hit by drought and encourage farmers to delay planting. The public is encouraged to use water sparingly.

The PWA says that drought could affect 61 water production facilities in 15 northeastern provinces, nine in the north, six in the south and one in the east. The facilities are already digging 524 wells to tap underground water as an alternative source, with the help of the Royal Irrigation Department.

Meanwhile, the Office of National Water Resources is warning Chiang Rai and other lower Mekong provinces to prepare for a decrease in water levels as testing at China’s Jinghong dam continues. Eight provinces along the Mekong River have experienced a drop in levels that will run until tomorrow, January 4, during tests at the Jinghong hydroelectric power station in China’s Yunnan province.

The affected provinces are Chiang Rai, Loei, Nakhon Phanom, Nong Khai, Mukdahan, Bung Kan, Amnat Charoen and Ubon Ratchathani. Water levels along the Mekong are expected to drop by around 40-60cm in the test’s initial stages and a further 30-50cm when outflows are restricted later.

“The amount of water flow will be further reduced to its lowest point of 504-800m³/s on January 4 before it is restored to its original volumes.”

SOURCE: Chiang Rai Times

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Air Pollution

Air purifiers installed at Victory Monument whilst southern winds blow the smoke north

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Air purifiers installed at Victory Monument whilst southern winds blow the smoke north | The Thaiger
GRAPHIC: The Air Visual feed indicates today's southern air flow is the reason for better city air - AirVisual.com

The Nation reports that the Rajaprajanukron Foundation, under Royal Patronage, installed four air- purifiers yesterday around the Victory Monument area in a trial of their effectiveness in filtering out PM2.5 dust particles.

Silpasuay Raweesaengsoon, permanent secretary of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration says the machines can purify polluted air at the rate of two cubic metres per second.

“Placed in areas with heavy traffics, they help reduce the level of pollution caused by vehicle emissions. The purifiers will be switched on daily from 5am to 12am, and 2pm to 8pm. If the air purifiers prove practical, they will be installed at bus stops, schools, and other busy places.”

The move, whilst audible, will do little to address the acute air pollution problems around the city. Most of the city’s smog comes from the burning off of plantations, mostly around the central Thailand farming regions, but also in the north and north-east. The data from the NASA satellites clearly show active fires in a real-time feed (also note the even more acute problem in Cambodia, whose smoke is also floating across into Thailand)

Air purifiers installed at Victory Monument whilst southern winds blow the smoke north | News by The Thaiger

Meanwhile the AirVisual feed this morning (below) indicates that the respite from severe air pollution today is due to the current southerly airflow out of the Gulf of Thailand. The evidence is clear that the problem in Bangkok is only when the winds are blowing the smoke from the plantation fires in the east and north towards the city. If the problem was the traffic and the factories, then Bangkok would still have poor air this morning, or right throughout the year, which it doesn’t. Bangkok’s air pollution problems are evidentially linked to the time of the year when the farmers light fires in pre or post harvest.

Air purifiers installed at Victory Monument whilst southern winds blow the smoke north | News by The Thaiger

Read our editorial about the denial of Thai authorities to embrace the data and continue focussing their blame on local city factors.

Meanwhile Thailand’s sugar industry is trying to take the lead in encouraging farmers of sugarcane to cur and harvest, rather than burn their sugarcane before harvesting. Read that story HERE.

SOURCE: The Nation

Air purifiers installed at Victory Monument whilst southern winds blow the smoke north | News by The Thaiger

The southern air stream at the top of the Gulf of Thailand has pushed much of today’s smoke back into central Thailand and the north – AirVisual.com

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Air Pollution

Sugar industry asks the government to subsidise harvesting machinery

The Thaiger

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Sugar industry asks the government to subsidise harvesting machinery | The Thaiger

Sugar factories are campaigning to cut and harvest raw sugarcane, instead of boring it first, for processing. The conglomerates are recommending that the government offer funding at low interest rates to farmers to buy harvesters as the prices of the equipment are quite high (6-12 million baht).

They are also urging the government to purchase electricity from biomass power plants as some plants are locked out from selling their power to the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand.

“No farmer wants to burn their field but the cost of labour is high. Factories must sign contracts with farmers to help with the harvesting.”

“Factories can encourage farmers by buying raw sugarcane while some sugarcane can be left for generating power,” according to The Nation.

Meanwhile, local sugarcane growers in Nakhon Sawan, central Thailand, are burning their fields at night despite authorities’ ban on the practice. It appears little is being done to curb the practice which is one of the main causes, if not the main cause, of the smoke and haze problems in various parts of the country throughout this time of the year.

Despite doing their burins at night, when farmers believe they will avoid the notice of the sleeping authorities, they are providing easy to locate burn-offs. Authorities banned field burning late last year in a bid to control the hazardous fine smoke particles that were drifting into highly populated city areas.

Now the sugar industry is also trying to encourage farmers to stop the practice of burn-offs.

“The problem of fires at sugarcane plantations requires cooperation from all sectors” – Sitiwuth Siempakdee, vice president of Thai Sugar Miller Company.

Sugarcane harvesting started on December 1, 2019, at the same time the smog and smoke problems started in Bangkok and areas around central Thailand.

“The increase in sugarcane output over the previous year was because there were three new factories,. Also, factories increased the efficiency of their machines, improved sugar extraction as a result cane extraction capacity average is 1.0-1.1 million tonnes per day.”

“Sugarcane output this year will be lower than 30-40% of the previous year, because of the impact of drought, or only 90 million tonnes. Sugarcane extraction will be less than last year by 3 to 4 million tonnes.”

SOURCE: The Nation

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Environment

32 year old British patient recovering in Phuket, suspected Coronavirus victim

The Thaiger

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32 year old British patient recovering in Phuket, suspected Coronavirus victim | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Ash Shorley remains in critical condition in a Phuket Hospital - Go Fund Me

UPDATE HERE.

A British tourist is reported to be fighting for his life in a Phuket hospital. He could be the first Western victim of the coronavirus strain sweeping through China, according to Doctors at the hospital, but is yet to be confirmed. This latest coronavirus, related to the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) viruses, is new and was first discovered in the Chinese city of Wuhan last month.

32 year old Ash Shorley remains in critical condition in a Phuket hospital after being infected with a virus while visiting Koh Phi Phi, in the Krabi province. He has been in hospital for nearly a month. His parents, Chris and Julie, who live in Lancashire, are now in Phuket whilst tests are being processed to determine the virus that has attacked Mr Shorley. His parents report that Ash has lost 52 kilograms since contracting the mystery disease.

“He was two days from death. If he wasn’t so fit, he wouldn’t be with us now. We are now waiting on tests. It is very serious.” – Ash Shorley’s father.

Ash was transported to Phuket by seaplane because “his lung had collapsed”, according to the Daily Mail Online. Phuket doctors claim his symptoms are consistent with the Chinese coronavirus but a confirmation on their suspicions is yet to emerge. Experts, speaking to Daily Mail Online, say Mr Shorley’s symptoms are consistent with the new Chinese coronavirus, but could also be a sign of other respiratory infections, as yet, undetermined.

The mysterious SARS-like virus has so far killed 3 and infected up to 220 confirmed (as of Tuesday) cases, although estimates by the WHO speculate that there are as many as 1,700 cases in Wuhan, central China, since December.

The virus is now confirmed to have spread to other parts of China – 5 cases in Beijing, 14 in Shenzhen and one in a province adjacent to Shanghai. Four other confirmed cases have been reported in Thailand, Japan, and South Korea.

The spike in reported cases comes as millions of Chinese are packing their bags to travel overseas for the Chinese New Year holiday. Meanwhile, a spokesperson from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs maintains the country has “stuck to a serious, earnest and professional attitude” to prevent and control any further outbreak of the disease.

SOURCE: Daily Mail Online

32 year old British patient recovering in Phuket, suspected Coronavirus victim | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Instagram32 year old British patient recovering in Phuket, suspected Coronavirus victim | News by The Thaiger

GRAPHIC: Daily Mail Online

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