The Royal Rain-making and Agricultural Aviation Department is expected to be cloud-seeding from this Saturday until next Monday to help contain fires in Thailand’s western forests, which appear to be out of control.

Atthaphon Charoenchansa, director-general of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, said today (Tuesday) that may hotspots have been detected in the forests north of the Srinagarind Dam in Kanchanaburi.

He said that fires have now spread to dry evergreen woodland, which is only accessible after several hours of trekking through the forests.

He said that helicopters have been used to drop water onto the raging fires, but with little success as rain is needed.

Several national parks and wildlife sanctuaries across the country, particularly in the north and west regions, have been closed to facilitate the fire-fighting efforts.

He warned that villagers who start fires while foraging in the forests or while poaching will be dealt with strictly, noting that the fires are causing serious damage to the environment and are a threat to health.

According to the Pollution Control Department, PM2.5 dust in 69 areas in Bangkok and its suburbs and in 48 provinces exceeds the safety level.

The PM2.5 problem in Bangkok and surrounding areas is forecast to deteriorate tomorrow, but improve slightly in the following days, due to the intensifying southerly wind. More dust is predicted in the atmosphere in 17 northern provinces for the next week.

In the north, PM2.5 was measured today at between 61 and 133 microns, which is above Thailand’s 50-micron safety level. In other regions, PM2.5 readings were 45-76 microns in the north-east, 44-84 microns in the central and western regions, 52-73 microns in the east, 17-32 microns in the south and 54-108 in Bangkok and its suburbs.

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