Thick haze blanketing Thai island restricts outdoor activities & flights
Backpackers making their way to the popular island of Phuket, Thailand, have been warned that a heavy smog in the area poses a serious health risk, and is even disrupting some flights.
The warning was issued by the Tourism Authority of Thailand, and the UK Foreign Office has said visitors should check with their airline before travelling through the region.
The haze has been caused by farmers in Indonesia lighting fires to clear agricultural land. Local officials have advised visitors to stay indoors and anyone with respiratory problems to wear a face mask. Local hospitals have been handing these out for free.
In the last 24 hours the average air pollution in Phuket has been measured at 136 micrograms per cubic metre, which is 16mg above the public safety limit.
"It's unusual for Phuket to be affected by these fires," said a spokesman for the Tourism Authority of Thailand. "Every year Thailand does experience a similar haze but normally much further south."
How long the situation lasts depends on weather, with officials hoping the smog will clear in the next couple of days.
Phuket is an incredibly popular destination for backpackers, and although peak season has passed it is still expected that many travellers will be affected by the current situation. If you're due to be in the area within the next couple of days, we recommend getting in touch with your airline or travel provider before travelling and, if possible, alter your plans accordingly.