6 June 2024

Apparently undeterred by the excessive PM2.5 air pollution, many residents and tourists, both Thai and foreign, spilled onto the Chiang Mai’s main roads this morning (Thursday) to celebrate the Songkran festival.

Many were seen filling their water guns and containers from a ditch, to squirt at one another in a joyful atmosphere.

In line with the tradition, the Phuttha Sihing, the most revered Buddha image in Chiang Mai, was moved from Phra Sing Temple in a vehicle procession around the city, to let people ritually bathe the statue.

Pickup trucks, carrying barrels filled with water, were seen cruising around town, with revellers on board throwing water at passers-by.

The Air Pollution Mitigation Centre of the Pollution Control Department reported today that PM2.5 levels in 34 northern and north-eastern provinces are above Thailand’s 50-micron safety level.

In northern provinces, including Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Mae Hong Son, three popular tourist destinations, PM2.5 levels were measured at between 60 and 284 microns. In north-eastern provinces, PM2.5 levels were measured from 38 to 121 microns.

Meanwhile, in Nakhon Nayok province, the forest fires which reignited yesterday on Khao Tabaek mountain in Bang Wang Ri are now spreading toward Khao Yai National Park, prompting fire fighters to rush to control them. Helicopters were also used to drop water onto mountain peaks, which are inaccessible by vehicle.

Atthaphon Charoenchansa, the acting director-general of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, said that water was dropped to prevent fire from spreading to other mountains.

About 22,500 litres of water were dropped yesterday, said Atthaphon as he expressed concern over the huge quantity of dry leaves, which are ideal fuel for fires, adding that operational plans have to be adjusted every now and then for the safety of some 350 fire fighters.

Fires are concentrated in Chang Chong Yang Daeng, Ban Wang Ri and the mountain some distance from the Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy.