With the haze already forcing Singapore to worry about whether the F1 GP should proceed tomorrow and Malaysia sending two aircraft to evacuate citizens from an island where an emergency has been declared, the declaration that Phuket air has reached unsafe levels added a third country, Thailand, to those vitally concerned about burning off in Indonesia.
The Phuket warning was sounded by the island office of the Pollution Control Department at 6am today when the measurement of air quality on the Pollution Standards Index moved to 125, five points above the level considered ''safe.''
The Director of Public Health on Phuket, Bancha Kakong, said that the elderly and young should stay indoors, along with those who have respiratory ailments. ''People who go out are advised not to exercise and to wear masks,'' he said.
With Singapore and Malaysia already fuming at this year's increase in dangers over a problem that Indonesia has so far seemed incapable of solving alone, Thailand is now likely to also become involved - especially as news of the unhealthy haze is likely to affect tourism, which accounts for about 10 percent of national income.
Indonesia has made some belated arrests over the burnings this year. Smoke from farms on Sumatra and Kalimantan disturbs the country's neighbors of Singapore and Malaysia every year. This is the first time, however, that an unhealthy level has been recorded on Phuket in Thailand.
In comparison with today's level of PSI 125 on Phuket, the island-nation of Singapore was recording levels between 163-181, according to live readings taken soon after 10am.
An atmospheric inversion is being blamed by meteorologists for the haze on Phuket. Its presence became noticeable yesterday and was clearly considered harmful with today's 6am measurement of PSI 125.
On previous days, the Phuket pollution measurement showed nil on Tuesday, PSI 21 on Wednesday, PSI 17 on Thursday and PSI 24 on Friday.
If Phuket is affected, it's likely that other parts of Thailand - including neighboring Krabi and Phang Nga - are suffering similar unhealthy particle levels.