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Mae Hong Son tops burning season rankings with 107 hotspots, says GISTDA

Satellite images taken on Saturday (March 12) show a total of 760 hotspots across Thailand as the January-March burning season takes its annual toll on the country.

The worst-hit province was Mae Hong Son, with 107 hotspots, said the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA).

Next came Lampang and Sakon Nakhon with 53 and 40 hotspots, respectively, GISTDA said, citing images from the Suomi NPP satellite.

The satellite uses a VIIRS (Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite) sensor to detect hotspots, which are caused by either forest fires or burning of crops or weeds.

Of the total 760 hotspots, 253 were in agricultural areas, 206 in national forests, 119 in forest reservations, 94 in agricultural land reform zones, 85 in community areas and 3 were beside highways, said GISTDA.

“The expansion of hotspots in agricultural areas are due to farmers burning harvest stubble and weeds to prepare their fields for the next round of cultivation,” the space agency said.

It warned that crop burning increases the risk of forest fires and generates PM2.5 smog, adding that people in smog-affected areas should wear face masks outside of their homes.

From January 1 to March 12, the Northeast had the highest number of hotspots at 10,523, followed by the North (9,016) and Central Region (5,513).

In the past week, Myanmar has had the most hotspots among Thailand’s neighbours at 5,707, followed by Laos (2,072) and Cambodia (787).

Published : March 14, 2022