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No respite from heat; rains may be delayed

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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THAILAND: The country continues to suffer scorching temperatures this month and the rainy season may be further delayed due to the lack of moisture in the air, meteorologists have warned.

Wattana Kanbua, senior meteorologist and Marine Meteorological Centre director, revealed yesterday that Thailand may start getting some rain from May 14 onward, as the moisture-bearing southwestern wind from the Indian Ocean will blow into Thailand. However, due to the hot weather in most parts of the country, it may not rain as expected.

“Judging from the weather-pattern simulator, we can see that Thailand will get more rain after mid-May, but I’m concerned that the weather will still be too hot and dry for clouds to form and create rain,” Wattana said.

“The situation will be like last year when the winds came on time, but the weather was too hot and arid for rain to form. That is why we need more trees to trap the moisture and keep the weather cool,” he said.

As it was still unclear when the rainy season will come, many areas in the country are suffering badly from drought and hot weather.

In Chiang Mai, the Doi Tao reservoir has dried up and affected more than 27,000 people in six nearby sub districts. Locals say this is the worst drought in 40 years, and the water level has dropped so much that people can walk across the reservoir.

Uthai Intachad, a local resident, said people living near the reservoir used to make Bt1,000 per day from farming and fishing, but now they have had to switch to raising livestock and relying on government subsidies because there is not enough water.

The hot and dry conditions have also resulted in the price of vegetables rising. In Phitsanulok province, for instance, the price of some vegetables such as yard-long beans has increased tenfold.

According to the Royal Irrigation Department, the four main dams in the Chao Phraya Basin only have 10 per cent of water available, and 21 dams across the country are less than 30 per cent full.

The Meteorological Department revealed that many parts of Thailand will have to endure hot weather, especially this week, with the mercury hitting 40 degrees Celsius in the North, Northeast, East and Central regions due to low pressure.

Though May is usually the transitional month when the weather changes from summer to the rainy season, the department warned that weather patterns will be unpredictable and that rainfall will be slightly lower than average.

Meanwhile, the department also warned that the North, Northeast, East and Central regions may be hit by summer storms from tomorrow (Saturday) to next Monday due to the southeastern winds.

Thailand is not the only country in the region suffering from sizzling temperatures. The Associated Press reported that Cambodia had to reduce school hours as temperatures in the country have hit 43 degrees Celsius.

A spokesperson for the Cambodian Education Ministry said that schools were starting 30 minutes later and closing half an hour early because most did not have air-conditioning and the high temperatures may cause students to suffer from heat-related illnesses.

— Phuket Gazette / The Nation

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Drugs

Police seize 920 kilograms of cannabis smuggled across the Mekong River

Caitlin Ashworth

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Police seize 920 kilograms of cannabis smuggled across the Mekong River | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thairath

In a major bust on the Mekong River, notorious for drug smuggling, border patrol police seized 920 kilograms of dried, compacted cannabis from a boat along the Nakhon Pathom riverbank, bordering Laos.

Police were tipped off about a large shipment of drugs being trafficked across the Thai-Laos border. Police spotted a boat around 4am yesterday. When police moved in, men onboard the boat jumped onto a smaller boat and sped off. Police found 23 sacks filled with 1-kilogram packages of compressed cannabis.

Police seize 920 kilograms of cannabis smuggled across the Mekong River | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: MGR Online

In the recent months, police have seized more than 5 tonnes of cannabis. While the Thai government has been loosening measures on cannabis, allowing parts of the plant with low traces of the psychoactive component tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, to be used in food and medicinal products, trafficking cannabis is still illegal. Cannabis with high amounts of THC is still classified as a Category 5 narcotic.

SOURCE:Bangkok Post

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Protests

At least 22 people arrested at Bangkok protest, officer dies of heart failure

Caitlin Ashworth

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At least 22 people arrested at Bangkok protest, officer dies of heart failure | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Nation Thailand

At least 22 people were arrested during the Bangkok protest yesterday, which turned violent as pro-democracy activists marched toward the prime minister’s residence, according to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights. An officer died during the rally, which the human rights group says was due to heart failure.

Some protesters threw ping pong bombs and firecrackers in the violent clash with police, the group says. Police armed in riot gear fired rubber bullets and hit protesters with batons. Water cannons and tear gas were used to break up the crowds after some protesters had breached the barricade of shipping containers that had been blocking the way to the prime minister’s residence at a military base on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road, according to the Bangkok Post. At least 33 people, including 23 police officers, were injured.

Out of the 22 arrested, 4 were minors who were picked up from the Din Daeng police station by their parents and will need to report to the Juvenile and Family Court this afternoon, according to the human rights group. The detained protesters face charges of fighting, blocking or harming a police officer.

Protesters from REDEM, or Restart Democracy, which is a spin off of the Free Youth group, were marching to PM Prayut Chan-o-cha’s residence to call on monarchy reform and an end to Thailand’s military influences in government.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Thai PM says Covid-19 jab is safe, urges people to get vaccinated

Maya Taylor

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Thai PM says Covid-19 jab is safe, urges people to get vaccinated | The Thaiger
PHOTO: EPA-EFE

The Thai PM, Prayut Chan-o-cha, has assured people the Covid-19 vaccine is safe as he called on citizens to get vaccinated. Nation Thailand reports that the PM was speaking at a vaccination drive taking place at Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute, in the central province of Nonthaburi.

It’s understood Prayut himself will receive the AstraZeneca vaccine, having been deemed too old for China’s Sinovac jab. However, it is unclear when he might be vaccinated, with the delay put down to issues with the AstraZeneca paperwork.

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul was the first person in Thailand to receive a Covid-19 vaccine, when he got the Sinovac jab yesterday. It’s understood he has not experienced any adverse reaction. A number of other politicians and prominent medics also got the vaccine, including Opas Karnkawinpong from the Department of Disease Control and the Public Health Deputy Minister Sathit Pitutecha.

The PM says the vaccines are safe and is calling on everyone to get inoculated when the time comes.

“The government and medical personnel have overcome this crisis many times so far. This shows that Thailand can contain the spread of Covid-19 effectively.”

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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