BANGKOK (AFP) – Military planes have flown over northern Thailand, dumping water in an effort to contain haze which has affected some five million people for the past two weeks, an official said Saturday.
Two aircraft dropped water in the northern tourist hotspot of Chiang Mai where air quality still remained at a level considered unhealthy due to the haze caused by slash-and-burn farming and wildfires in the region and parts of neighboring Laos and Myanmar.
Army-installed Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont, who visited the haze-hit region this week, ordered the military to dispatch planes to ease environmental and health effects of the haze, said an air force spokesman.
“Initially, our operation covers only Chiang Mai, but we will assess the situation and may expand (water spraying operations) to other haze-hit provinces,” said Group Captain Monthol Suchookorn.
Apart from Chiang Mai, the haze has blanketed seven northern provinces and the public health ministry said it affected the health of 1.5 million residents, mostly suffering eye irritation and sore throats.
The public health ministry has distributed some 600,000 surgical masks and enlisted thousands of volunteers to distribute them and offer advice about possible respiratory problems.
The ministry also has handed out 400,000 booklets on how to cope with haze.