Three dead as forest fires rage in northern Thailand

Three villagers have been killed in forest fires in northern Thailand as the government ordered the areas to be closed.

The wildfires in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand, have been raging for several weeks amid dry conditions, destroying hundreds of acres of land. Footage from this morning (April 8) shows thick clouds of smoke covering nearby fields.

The three deceased were identified as Niphon Jaratham, Piyaphan Sansuk and Tanee Kijcharoenphan. They were from different villages and districts and were trapped on the hillsides as flames spread.

The provincial lieutenant governor Komsan Suwanampa issued a directive to close all access to the forest as they believed the main cause of the blaze to be locals who start camp fires while hunting and foraging.

He said: "We have caught several locals who started fires and we believe that prohibiting the forest activities could be helpful to stop the fire."

The Minister of Environmental Resources said that the banning anyone from entering the forest could also reduce air pollution problem but it is only a short term plan.

He said: "Since the cause of the pollution came from the fine dust and ashes, the air quality in the town should be better if we can stop the fires.

"We will only use this measure for a short period and we will consider the long term plan again, but for now our priority is to extinguish the fires.''