Thursday, January 15, 2009

Cold Snap Hits Thailand

At least five deaths reported as temperatures in the north plunge to 2 deg C

BANGKOK: An unusually severe cold spell has hit tropical Thailand, with temperatures falling to as low as 2 deg C in northern parts of the country.

At least five people have died as a result of exposure to the unusually cold conditions in northern areas such as Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, which have prompted the authorities to declare an emergency zone across more than half of the country yesterday.

While cold weather is not unusual in Thailand, especially between November and February - with temperatures dropping to 8 deg C in the north and 18 deg C in Bangkok - this year's weather has been exceptionally cold.

In Bangkok, the temperature fell to 15 deg C on Monday, which saw many residents and commuters leaving their homes clad in cardigans and jackets.

While this is cold for the Thai capital, the temperature is far off its record low of 11 deg C recorded in 1974, according to the Meteorological Department.

The department attributed the cold spell to intense cold air blowing in from China.

'Because the high pressure from China keeps coming, the cold weather will stay in Bangkok at least until this weekend,' a meteorological official said.

The cold snap has hit the northern parts of Thailand especially hard. Strong winds coupled with the cold snap brought temperatures in most parts of the north and north-east below 14 deg C, with one mountain recording 2 deg C on Sunday morning.

Temperatures in central Thailand dropped to 13 to 15 deg C, while the south remained a little warmer, at 17 to 23 deg C.

Government officials said that 42 of Thailand's 76 provinces, mostly in the north and north-east, will get a special budget to provide blankets and warm clothing.

The Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation had last month warned northern residents about plunging temperatures and started declaring some northern provinces as cold-spell disaster zones.


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