Bangkok officials blast off water streams to tackle hazardous air pollution

Marje Pelayo   •   December 25, 2018   •   6992

Authorities use water canons to blast off dust particles that cause air pollution in Bangkok. | Photo by Reuters

Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) officials used water cannons on Monday (Dec 24) in areas deemed critical in an attempt to catch dust particles blamed for the hazardous air pollution in the capital city this past week.

“The pollution is mainly caused by the construction sites of government infrastructures – the roads and sky trains – at the same time, the private sector is also constructing high rise buildings along those skytrain stations. Secondly, the combustion from the vehicles. We have to admit that we have a lot of cars and traffic jams,” said Deputy Bangkok Governor Taweesak Lerdprapan in Thai.

The concentration of particulate matter (PM2.5) dust had eased up on Monday with a 24-hour rolling average of 36-56 micrograms per m3, compared to Friday’s (December 21) average of 114-175 micrograms per m3, according to data provided by the city’s Pollution Control Department.

Authorities have advised Bangkok residents to ‘stay indoors’ and added the situation would get better in the next couple of weeks.

Local residents were seen wearing face masks during their morning commute to protect themselves from the current levels of pollution.

“It’s very hazy and grim these days. I feel that there’s a lot of dust. I usually clean my nose frequently and I can feel that it’s not clean,” said 26-year-old Bangkok Resident Suganya Tuwang.

“Yes, I can feel it (health impact from air pollution). It makes me feel… It causes me to have trouble breathing, so I have to use face mask to protect myself,” exclaimed Chanpen Boonkhuntod, also a resident of Bangkok.

PM 2.5 is a mixture of fine particles that can include dust, dirt, soot and smoke. – REUTERS

PH Embassy, ready to assist in repatriation of Filipinos amid Delta variant surge in Thailand

Marje Pelayo   •   July 16, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Ambassador Millicent Cruz-Paredes assured that Filipinos in Thailand are coping with the fresh surge of COVID-19 cases there.

During the Laging Handa Press Briefing on Friday (July 16), Paredes said the Embassy is ready to assist Filipinos in returning to the Philippines in case a travel ban is imposed against their host country.

“Nakahanda na po kami kung anoman ang magiging challenges and again ang magiging resulta nito. Alam na po ng ating Filipino community dito, gayundin ng mga airlines [dahil’ sila din ang nagmomonitor ng flow of passengers,” she said.

Meanwhile, Paredes said there were 30 Filipinos who have contracted COVID-19 in Thailand.

Of the said number, 27 already recovered, two were active cases and one succumbed to the disease just this month.

The envoy said the Embassy is already coordinating with the victim’s family.

Paredes explained that, at present, the country specifically its capital Bangkok is experiencing a third wave of infection.

“Ang pangatlong wave, it happened around March this year. Iyon po ay nakitaan ng pagpasok na ng mga variants. Nagsimula po ‘yan sa 2 high-end bars dito sa Bangkok,” she said.

“Dito po sa Bangkok, nakikitaan nila na ang around 69% [ng cases] ay Delta variant na,” she added.

Currently, Paredes said the Thai government is looking into possible cross-vaccination using available brands like AstraZeneca and Pfizer.

“Thailand PM Prayut Chan-o-cha already said na hindi siya hahadlang at mag-o-object sa mga proposals na magkaroon ng cross vaccination that would involve AstraZeneca, Pfizer,” Paredes said.

Suspect arrested in robbery, gruesome death of toddler in Thailand

UNTV News   •   January 22, 2020

Thai police officers conduct an investigation next to the body of a victim at a crime scene after a robbery inside a department store in Lopburi province, Thailand, 09 January 2020 (issued 10 January 2020). EPA-EFE FILE/STR

By Lobsang DS Subirana

Bangkok –
Police said Wednesday they had arrested a man they suspect killed three people, among them a toddler, and injured another four during the robbery of a jewelry shop in a central province in Thailand.

Gen. Chakthip Chaijinda, a commissioner-general of the Royal Thai Police, confirmed the arrest of Prasittichai Khaokaew, a 39-year-old school director, who he said was linked to the gruesome incident at a Lopburi province shopping center earlier this month, footage of which went viral.

“The alleged offender has been questioned about his motives but details cannot be revealed at the moment since we have not finished the investigation process yet,” Chakthip said during a media briefing.

Prasittichai was arrested Wednesday morning after the criminal court issued an arrest warrant Tuesday evening.

Police did not reveal further details and said another press conference would be held at 10.30 am on Thursday at the Royal Thai Police Headquarters in the capital Bangkok, adding they would address the motives and official charges against the suspect.

“The alleged offender did not deny any of the charges,” the commissioner-general said. “He thought he wouldn’t be able to get away with it.”

Chakthip also said Prasittichai did not resist arrest and that he “accepted his own mistakes.”

Prasittichai teaches at Wat Phochai School, a primary school located in Singburi, a neighboring province of Lopburi. Local media said he was originally from Lopburi, but police did not confirm this.

Security camera footage from Jan. 10 shows how a man wearing a balaclava shoots at customers and staff while approaching the counter. He then gets on the counter and proceeds to walk up and down, before rummaging through valuables and making off with a handful of jewelry.

Police said the man, who was wielding a gun with a silencer, first shot at a security guard before proceeding with his rampage.

A separate video shows how a child walking by falls to the ground after sustaining a wound to the head before his mother takes him away to find cover. Authorities said the boy died at the hospital.

Out of the more than 10 million firearms in Thailand, only 6 million are legally registered, according to Australian monitoring organization EFE-EPA


Bangkok schools shut as Thai PM blames public for toxic smog

UNTV News   •   January 22, 2020

A Thai Buddhist monk wears a face mask to guard against poor air quality during morning alms in Bangkok, Thailand, 16 January 2020. EFE-EPA/NARONG SANGNAK

By Lobsang DS Subirana

Bangkok – Hundreds of schools closed Wednesday in Thailand’s capital after an order from authorities, following air pollution levels in the city that have exceeded hazardous levels for weeks and have even seen the prime minister blame the public for the issue.

The persistence of toxic smog that blankets Bangkok led the city’s metropolitan administration to order 437 schools closed, a recurrent annual event in a city that has suffered from the authorities’ inaction to tackle this major public health concern.

“In Bangkok, 437 schools will be closed for one day starting [Wednesday] to avoid the danger of harmful particles exceeding healthy standards and to help reduce the number of cars on the road that have to pick up and drop off students during rush hour,” Bangkok Governor Aswin Kwanmuang wrote Tuesday in a statement posted to his Facebook page.

The city’s levels of PM2.5 particles, the finest and most harmful kind, have regularly exceeded its own 50-microgram per cubic meter “safe” threshold – set at double that of the World Health Organization’s at 25 micrograms per cubic meter – in the first weeks of the year.

Monitoring agency Air Visual counted 10 days of the last two weeks in which the air quality exceeded local thresholds – and WHO thresholds on all 14 days, including a Monday high of 79 micrograms per cubic meter.

On all those days, Bangkok consistently ranked among the world’s top 10 most polluted cities, registering an “Unhealthy” Air Quality Index (AQI) value above 151 on at least half of them, in some cases entering the 201 threshold of “Very Unhealthy.”

To tackle these problems, Aswin said he had ordered 68 health centers and 50 district offices to provide masks for the general public and encourage that they be worn while performing outdoor activities.

Outdoor activities are what monitoring agencies least recommend when air pollution levels exceed 151 on the AQI, with Air Visual insisting people are likely to experience an “increased likelihood of adverse effects and aggravation to the heart and lungs among general public.”

Prime Minister Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha proceeded to blame the public for the situation following a Tuesday cabinet meeting in Narathiwat province.

“The public is responsible and a culprit in the PM2.5 problem,” Prayuth told the media, but added that he was willing to take measures to attempt to tackle the matter. “The government will consider all directives and actions, such as banning private vehicles and encourage people to use only public transportation.” EFE-EPA



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