Singapore lending two helicopters to Thailand to help deal with haze in the north

SINGAPORE is lending two helicopters to Thailand to help combat the haze blanketing the north of the country.

The two Chinook helicopters, which are currently in Thailand for the multilateral Cope Tiger exercise, will be deployed to douse the forest fires from Wednesday afternoon, said Thai junta spokesman Winthai Suvaree.

Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, in a post on his Facebook account on Wednesday, said the helicopters will be equipped with a 5,000-litre water bucket from the Singapore Civil Defence Force.

"Let's support our SAF men and women who are tasked for this mission - that they will do their job well and keep safe," he wrote, referring to the Singapore Armed Forces. 

The choking smog is an annual problem in this region from January to April as farmers burn the land to clear scrub or agricultural waste. 

Apart from creating health problems, it also turns away tourists. Some flights have been cancelled because planes have been unable to land in selected airports.

Air pollution was still acute as at 11am on Wednesday. The 24-hour moving average reading of small particulate matter in the air, or PM10, was up to 226mg per cu m in Chiang Mai province.

The acceptable standard in Thailand is 120mg per cu m.

tanhy@sph.com.sg