Death toll mounts as cold spell continues

The unusually long cold spell across the North, Northeast and Central regions has killed 63 people in the past three months and Bangkok has suffered its coldest night in three decades.

Sophon Mekthon, director general of the Disease Control Department, said on Thursday that the 63 fatalities were reported in 27 provinces between Oct 22, 2013 and Jan 19, 2014. 

Most of the fatalities were men. The youngest was a one-month-old baby and the oldest was 81 years old. A Cambodian and a British national were among the victims.

The northern border province of Chiang Rai had the most deaths, with six, followed by Sa Kaeo and Nakhon Ratchasima in the Northeast with five each.

Forty-five provinces have been declared cold-spell disaster zones and more than 25 million people have been affected by the cold weather.

Songkram Aksorn, deputy director general of the Meteorological Department, said Bangkok had its coldest morning in 30 years on Thursday, when the temperature fell to 15.6 degrees Celsius.

This year's cool season has been the longest for a decade, lasting almost three months, Mr Songkram said.

Narong Sahametapat, the permanent secretary for public health, said health officials in cold-struck provinces had been assigned to visit villages and take care of people, particularly children, the elderly and people with congenital diseases.

He recommended that people in cold-hit areas exercise regularly to improve blood circulation and consume food with high energy density and drink hot beverages. People should avoid caffeinated and alcoholic drinks.

The unusually long cool season, blamed on a cold front coming from the north, has also had an impact on Thailand's rice crop.

"The new rice harvest coming in is not of good quality, because it has flowered too early with this cool season's unusually low temperatures," said Vichai Sripraset, honorary president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association.

"When temperatures are low, fertilisation is bad, and then you get a lot of empty rice husks," he explained.

The cold weather has coincided with three months of almost daily street protests in the capital.

Leaders of anti-government protests said the low temperatures had not deterred people from joining the demonstrations. Many of them sleep out on the streets.

"It's been cold but not freezing, and Thai people generally enjoy cool weather the same way Westerners enjoy sunny skies," said Akanat Promphan, spokesman for the anti-government People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), which has been leading protests in the capital since early November.

Share your thoughts

Discussion 1 : 24/01/2014 at 11:39 AM
In Finland we open beer gardens and start bbq's when it gets above 0C
Discussion 2 : 24/01/2014 at 05:51 AM
No, generally Thaksin is putting OUT massive amounts of hot air.
Discussion 3 : 24/01/2014 at 05:22 AM
We have everything between -5 to -29ยบ in right Sweden now. I would gladly change that to +15. My Thai wife was a little bit soft when she come to Sweden but she do just fine.
Discussion 4 : 24/01/2014 at 05:06 AM
The Bangkok Post is slow in reporting this.I read this in a Norwegian newspaper atleast 12hours before reading about it here.This is not the first time this has happened.I had 15.5 celcious at around 6am yesterday but today a little warmer.It is now 16.5 degrees.
Discussion 5 : 24/01/2014 at 04:31 AM
So where are all the blankets that were handed out last time the cold weather came through?
Discussion 6 : 23/01/2014 at 08:12 PM
Hypothermia! drunk, flip flops & pair of shorts doh! it's called exposure to the elements ... maybe he was the 81 year old. All i know is my split unit air conditioner doesn't pump any heat ...so i'm freezing my tail off at nite ...in alaska you'd call it a three dog night ....but since i'm married and she doesn't like animals i'm stuck with just her cold feet.
Discussion 7 : 23/01/2014 at 07:59 PM
Would the BP reporters care to state the causes of death of the unfortunate victims of the cold spell? they certainly did not freeze to death.
Discussion 8 : 23/01/2014 at 07:26 PM
I highly doubt the actual cause of death of the British national was 15 degree weather.
Discussion 9 : 23/01/2014 at 05:26 PM
Today was the coldest m o r n i n g temperature recorded in 30 years. The low you quoted was at night, and came from Wikipedia. Please don't use Wikipedia for science data, especially when the story was specifically talking about the morning, after sunrise. It w a s the coldest morning in 30 years, which is what the writer stated.
Discussion 10 : 23/01/2014 at 05:18 PM
Is Suthep planning on blocking the Government's 'illegitimate' actions to help the frost-affected people of the North? Maybe the PDRC think Thaksin is behind the cool weather, sucking all the heat across the ocean to Dubai!
Discussion 11 : 23/01/2014 at 05:14 PM
You are correct. I remember it doing down to 11 one night.
Discussion 12 : 23/01/2014 at 03:10 PM
In 1999, the lowest temperature in Bangkok is 11.7 degree Celsius., in 2009, Bangkok's lowest temp. is 14.7 degree. The lowest temperature ever recorded in Bangkok is 9.9 degree celsius at 12 Jan, 2498. So, this is not the coldest weather in 30 years.

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