Phuket hopes clouds will lift for next week's vegetarian festival
Poisonous grey haze caused by illegal Indonesian forest fires has engulfed the popular Thai holiday island of Phuket.
Flights to Phuket have been delayed or cancelled due to reduced visibility, with naval vessels also being issued a warning for caution. The fumes have been spreading across South East Asia for several days, causing the swimming world championships to be closed down in Singapore and causing travel delays in cancellation across Thailand.
The smoke is the result of the recurring phenomenon of illegal forest fires in Indonesia which has been going on for decades. Plantation owners are known to slash-and-burn land in Sumatra during the dry season, which has been exceptionally dry this year.
The Thai foreign minister on Thursday met Indonesia’s ambassador to discuss the forest fires, which are a yearly problem. Indonesia has continually ignored pleas to convict plantation companies, and refused the help of Singapore in controlling the fires, but on Thursday a foreing ministry spokesman said that Jakarta would work “with a number of countries including Singapore” to fight the fires.