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Hundreds of Bangkok Schools Closed Due to Toxic Smog

A toxic smog chocking the Thai capital and forced more than 400 schools to shut on Wednesday as authorities struggled to manage a pollution crisis that has stirred widespread concern.

Bangkok has been shrouded in murky haze for weeks, forcing residents to don masks and sparking criticism of government

Reasons given for the lingering pall include exhaust from traffic, unfettered construction, the burning of crop stubble, and pollution from factories getting trapped in the city.

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration stepped up its health warnings, ordering all 437 city-controlled public schools to close from lunchtime until Friday, while designating 1,500 square kilometres (580 square miles) of the city a “control area”.

“The situation will be bad until February 3 to 4, so I decided to close schools,” said Bangkok governor Aswin Kwanmuang, adding he hoped the move would also empty the road of cars on the school run.

Three to four of the city’s districts were “severely hit with smog”, he added.

The measurements are higher than some cities in China but well below the Indian capital New Delhi. Greenpeace Thailand country director Tara Buakamsri said the levels in Bangkok were the worst in “at least a year”.

At a downtown Bangkok school where parents arrived early to pick up their children, pupils said they knew about the risks posed by the dangerous pollutant particles, known as PM 2.5.

“I use a mask wherever I go,” said 12-year-old Chaiwawut Benpalee. “It will not affect us now, but it will in the future.”

>Juthy Saha

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