Smog from Indonesia’s forest fires in Songkhla sparks protest
A small group of people demonstrated in front of the Indonesian Consular Office in Thailand’s southern province of Songkhla this morning (Friday) to demand that the Thai government apply pressure on Indonesia to stop the forest fires on Sumatra and Borneo islands, which are being blamed for the thick smog blanketing five southern provinces of Thailand.
Several policemen were deployed in front of the Indonesian Consular Office during the brief and peaceful protest.
In Hat Yai district of Songkhla, one of the five provinces affected, the level of 2.5 micron dust particles in the air was measured at 230 micrograms/cubic metre at 4pm on Wednesday, the worst in three years.
Many residents in the district were seen wearing face masks while outdoors. Visibility has been severely reduced due to the haze.
Indonesia’s forest fires are an annual problem, but this year they are the worst since 2015 due to the dry weather. Toxic haze has forced many schools in neighbouring Malaysia and Singapore to close down.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo said, during a visit to Riau province in central Sumatra on Tuesday, that Indonesia has been doing everything possible to extinguish the forest fires.
Thousands of troops have been sent to help fire fighters, while dozens of aircraft have been deployed for cloud-seeding and water-bombing operations.