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Indonesian fires cast pall over south

Released at: 18:37, 07/10/2015

Indonesian fires cast pall over south

HCMC and Mekong Delta covered in thick haze that should dissipate within a few days.

by Son Ho

The south of Vietnam has been blanketed by a thick haze over the last few days. It first appeared on October 4 over Con Dao Island, well off the southern coast, before reaching Kien Giang province on the mainland. By October 5 the haze covered Ca Mau, Can Tho, Cao Lanh, and even Ho Chi Minh City.

Many believed that environmental pollution in Ho Chi Minh City was the cause of the haze, as it’s quite a regular occurrence. Normally, though, the city’s pollution doesn’t reach as far as Ca Mau, Soc Trang, Can Tho and other areas of the Mekong Delta.

According to Mr. Dang Van Dung, Deputy Director of Hydro-meteorological Observatory for the Southern Region, pollution like this should never appear along coastal areas and would normally be limited to large cities with industrial parks, construction sites, and heavy traffic, such as Ho Chi Minh City, Bien Hoa, and Can Tho. The Observatory then decided to properly identify the source.

The culprit was found to be forest fires in Indonesia. On October 2 and 3, Singapore, Malaysia and southern Thailand were also affected by the haze, Mr. Dung told local media. By calculating the direction and speed of prevailing winds, he determined that that the fires would cast a haze over southern Vietnam from October 5 to 10.

Mr. Tran Van Binh, a meteorological engineer at the Bureau of Meteorology and Hydrology in Can Tho, said that the haze would affect some people’s health, recommending that if visibility was to fall to less than a kilometer that people should wear protective face masks when outdoors or, better still, stay indoors.

The haze was at its thickest on October 6, surrounding the tops of tall buildings in Ho Chi Minh City.

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