Thai Water Festival Brought Forward to Reduce Smog

Malaysia and Singapore are usually the victims of the haze arising from the burning of vegetation in the neighboring island of Sumatra. During the worst hazy days some people who used to fly out to Thailand for brighter skies. Now it seems some areas of Thailand are also suffering from this man made environmental disaster. Chiang Mai, A popular tourist destination in North of Thailand is one of the worst affected city.

Kuhlsrule writes from Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand.

It has been happening since early January, but only lately has it gotten really bad…
Days turn into weeks, weeks into months…The constant slashing/burning that has occurred here for two weeks has caused serious concern for anyone living in northern Thailand. We experience dusk at midday, and can nearly stare straight into the sun now that the sky is darkened by smoke. Our lungs fill up with pollutants until we break out in a series of burning coughs. All outdoor activities have been cancelled until the smog moves off, but it doesn't appear to have anywhere to go.
We just keep hoping for wind, or rain…

Early Songkran

Bangkok Recorder points to an idea that Chiang Mai city officials had

After recording critical smog levels in Thailand's northern provinces from forest fires, Chiang Mai city officials decide to bring Songkran celebrations forward hoping that the water-splashing festivities will raise the humidity, cause rain and clear the air.

Songkran is the traditional Thai water festival coinciding with the Thai new year. People celebrate Songkran by splashing water at each other.

Thaizer summarizes the efforts of Thai government in trying to solve the problem

I’m living in Chiang Mai at the moment and the last week has been unpleasant with many children and elderly people reporting respiratory problems. The army have been drafted in to help put out some of the forest fires and the Royal Thai Air Force has tried cloud seeding in an attempt to artificially induce rain to wash away the haze. The latter has so far been unsuccessful, but today there are encouraging signs that the situation is improving. The air is much clearer and for the first time in days, it has been possible to see clear blue sky and the outline of Doi Suthep.

Earlier, Lilian, concerned about her family, wrote

Its awful. My family and friends are suffering from respiratory problems, itchy eyes, dizziness and generally irritible. I woke up this morning with a sore throat. Its the smog. My daughter asked if we have a gas leak. Thats how it smells. It looks like fog. Thick fog. Apparently some planes couldn’t land yesterday due to the weather.

Planes are not landing, hurting the tourism industry in the area. Tourism is the mainstay of many people in this area. Meanderings writes

Who'd want to go visit a place where you can't see anything nor can you breathe?

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