Chiang Mai has been fighting severe air pollution for the past two weeks and the visibility is as low as 100 meters in some places. If the situation does not improve within the next couple of days, the authorities might declare Chiang Mai and other northern provinces as areas of catastrophe in order to limit the activity of the citizens.
“I came back to Chiang Mai on Sunday and I am experiencing difficulties breathing”, says Hans Christensen, who is the owner of the restaurant The House in Chiang Mai. “Everybody coughs and the smoke irritates the eyes”, he says.
The pollution stems from a combination of fires in the surrounding forests and fields as well as from the general traffic pollution from the city.
The local authorities have not been too informative, according to Hans Christensen, but local media reports that the authorities have urged children and elderly to stay indoors. “Closed doors and air conditioning is the only thing that helps if you are not able to leave the area”, says Hans Christensen. The cancellation of most flights to and from Chiang Mai makes it difficult for people to leave the city though.
So far the authorities have tried to clean the air and extinguish the fires by creating artificial rain from airplanes, but they have not succeeded as the air is not humid enough.
The Danish Embassy has so far received one call from a Danish family inquiring about the health risks, but the embassy is not planning any evacuation of Danes in the area.