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Flights to Chiang Mai disrupted as smog levels soar in North

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– Thailand news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Flights to Chiang Mai disrupted as smog levels soar in North
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The volume of tiny dust particles in the upper North rose beyond the safety level again yesterday and poor visibility reportedly prevented at least four flights from landing at Chiang Mai Airport.

Meanwhile, a 60-year-old Mae Hong Son man was the first person arrested this season for violating the outdoor-burning ban, which is a key measure to alleviate the smog problem.

Readings of small particulate matter up to 10 microns in diameter (PM10) were very high at Mae Hong Son and Chiang Rai at 311 micrograms per cubic metre as of 1pm.

Readings at other towns in the North were: Phayao 271mcg, Chiang Mai 279mcg, Lampang 189mcg, Lamphun 189mcg, Phrae 152mcg, Nan 141mcg and Tak 130mcg. The maximum safety level is set at 120mcg per cubic metre.

Local bodies were trying to combat the haze with various measures; Chiang Mai sent fire trucks to sprinkle water into air while Mae Hong Son requested an artificial rain-making operation to reduce the dust.

An informed source said that from 11am to 1pm, haze reduced visibility at Chiang Mai Airport to only 800 meters, which caused pilots to make a decision on whether to land.

At least four decided not to: Thai Airways Flight 102 from Bangkok had to u-turn to Suvarnabhumi Airport; SL 8504 (Lion Air) flew back to Don Mueang; while PG 241 (Bangkok Airways) from Samui and FD3161 (Air Asia) from Phuket landed at Mae Fah Luang Airport in Chiang Rai, which reportedly had its lights turned on to improve visibility.

Other flights to or from Chiang Mai continued as usual.

Meanwhile, in Myanmar, all flights to Tachilek Airport in Shan state were reportedly cancelled because of poor visibility.

In regard to the arrest for outdoor burning, Mae Hong Son Provincial Police commander Pol Maj-General Jaruek Limsuwan said yesterday that police used satellite data to detect hot spots. This led to the arrest on Sunday of Dang Maneejan, 60, as he burned weeds in his property during the ban period.

“Police are now taking violations of the burning ban seriously, so we ask people to avoid burning anything even in their own house area during the province’s 60-day ban period. And police can detect a fire from the satellite surveillance,” he warned. The ban period is March 1 to April 29.

In Phitsanulok’s Chat Trakan district, a wild fire ravaged around 500 rai (80 hectares) of forest. The blaze started on Sunday evening but was brought under control yesterday, although smoke affected 100 families living within a 2-kilometre radius.

The haze problem has hit local people’s health and daily lives, with thousands seeking medical treatment for respiratory problems. However, Isara Sathapanaset, director the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Chiang Rai office, insisted yesterday that the tourism sector was not affected, as this is the low season.

Mae Hong Son Chamber of Commerce chairman Thanit Thaitrong also said the haze wasn’t the main factor contributing to a lower number of tourists.

After a joint private committee met yesterday to discuss the impact the 10-day haze is having on Chiang Mai’s tourism sector and economy, Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce chairperson Wipawan Woraputipong said a survey showed that hotel bookings had not yet been cancelled.

However, visitors from other regions of Thailand have either dropped or postponed their visit to the province, she added. Calling on all sides to help solve the haze problem, she warned that the impact would worsen if the haze continued for a prolonged period. The joint private committee will also offer recommendations to the Chiang Mai governor later, she added.

Since the biggest contributor to haze was the burning of agricultural waste and setting fire to clear land, she said they could not just blame villagers. Instead, she said, the authorities should also look at business operators who buy the produce, like contract-farming companies or the public sector that supports cash crops.

She said these groups should be responsible of finding ways to properly dispose agricultural waste or the government could consider raising tax as a means of resolving the problem at the root.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Thailand

Thai Chamber of Commerce urges visa amnesty to be extended after today’s deadline

The Thaiger

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Thai Chamber of Commerce urges visa amnesty to be extended after today’s deadline | The Thaiger

The Thai Chamber of Commerce is urging the government to extend the visa amnesty for the country’s 400,000 tourists after today’s deadline but has so far been turned down. The move comes as such provinces like Chiang Mai’s immigration office sends messages giving tourists until Monday to sort out their visas (which is under the law as Saturday, the final day of the visa amnesty, is usually closed).

“For the foreigners that visas will expire on September 26, 2020, if come to continue the visa on Monday, September 28, 2020, no need to pay for overstay. If you haven’t been able to sort through the queues and online bookings for an appointment, you also have Monday (at any immigration office) to get things sorted. Many of the country’s immigration offices are open today. Good luck.”

TCC chairman Kalin Sarasin says they have repeatedly asked the Immigration Bureau to extend the amnesty by 90 days but have been met with unclear answers as the deadline for sorting visas hits today.

“We were told that this agenda was in the process, but there’s been no progress so far.”

Kalin says the deadline will bring even more chaos to those who await flights out of the country as they are not yet fully allowed. Furthermore, such provinces as Chiang Mai attribute stranded tourists as helping generate revenue at a time when the country desperately needs it. As these tourists need long-term accomodations, they undoubtedly bring revenue to the domestic tourism sector at a time when hotels and other types of accommodations are struggling.

“Instead of blacklisting those foreigners, the government should accommodate them with a more flexible period, particularly when the country cannot reopen for inbound tourists. The uncompromising stance towards visa extension scares tourists away despite the fact that they help drive the local economy in these tough times.”

This week has been the busiest on record for stressed out Immigration officials who have been trying to cope with the last minute influx of tourists and expats whose visas had expired and were trying to extend, or apply for, visas to stay in the country.

Anantorn Hochindarat, president of the Tourism Association of Chiang Mai, says some businesses have received recurring revenue from international tourists which can help a lot when facing difficult times.

Although the profits from such tourists are much lower now, Anantorn says it can help businesses stay afloat. Despite such calls for an extension of visa amnesty, the Immigration Bureau has yet to announce any leeway to be given after today’s deadline.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Air Pollution

PM to tackle Northern Thailand’s seasonal haze… again

Caitlin Ashworth

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PM to tackle Northern Thailand’s seasonal haze… again | The Thaiger
FILE PHOTO

The Thai prime minister says he’s working on a plan to tackle Northern Thailand’s seasonal haze problem by cutting back manmade bushfires known to largely contribute to the air pollution. The issue has been broadly covered in Thai and foreign media for years, and been followed up with ministerial visits, promises, and little else.

PM Prayut Chan-o-cha spoke with governors of 17 northern provinces affected by seasonal haze, saying that he plans to supply villagers and local organisations with equipment, but reports did not go into much detail about what tools locals would get. He says authorities and state agencies need to step in to help combat the haze problem, suggesting that provincial governors head the local fight against wildfires.

“It’s important to eradicate the root cause of wildfires that result from villagers’ way of life… Even more farming space should be provided to farmers who need it to protect natural resources from being destroyed.”

Prayut added that it’s important for state agencies to collaborate on the firefighting effort and said members of the public can help raise awareness about wildfires.

The annual haze/smoke/air pollution problem is not just a Thai issue with the neighbouring countries, particularly Myanmar, causing their fair share of the illegal plantation fires, as shown in sharp detail in the satellite images.

Read The Thaiger’s take on the annual ‘smoke’ problem HERE.

SOURCE: Chiang Rai Times

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Crime

Chiang Mai man charged with murdering baby daughter because he wanted a son

Maya Taylor

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Chiang Mai man charged with murdering baby daughter because he wanted a son | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thairath

A man has been arrested in Chiang Mai after confessing to poisoning his 7 month old daughter. 45 year old Anuphap Jaipanya, a hilltribe member, says he was influenced by his cultural beliefs and, having 2 daughters already, had hoped for a son to carry on the family name and take over his business.

The Pattaya News reports that the girl’s mother, 29 year old Malee Sinprai, originally reported the child missing to Chiang Mai police. She had been led to believe that her husband was taking the girl to visit relatives but became concerned when she could not reach them. Later that evening, Anuphap came home and confessed to the murder, presenting himself to police the following day.

In his confession, Anuphap told police he didn’t want another daughter and is experiencing financial trouble due to the Covid-19 situation. He has admitted to poisoning his daughter by force-feeding her an entire bottle of bathroom cleaner. He then buried her body at a Chinese cemetery in Chiang Mai’s Doi Saket district.

He is now in custody and has been charged with premeditated murder and concealing a corpse. His daughter’s body is being sent to Maharaj Nakorn Chiang Mai Hospital to allow the family to hold a religious ceremony.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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