The coldest weather in years froze provinces across Laos with northern regions suffering most from the extreme weather conditions.
Two northern provinces of Huapahn and Xieng Khuang, along with newly established central province of Xaysomboun, saw minus temperatures yesterday – the first time this year and for many years.
Xieng Khuang experienced the coldest with minus 2.2 Celsius, followed by Xaysomboun that saw the mercury plunge to minus 2 Celsius, while Samneua district of Huaphanh province recorded minus 1.1 Celsius.
Lao weather forecasters blamed this year’s extreme weather conditions on global climate change.
Xieng Khuang has seen increasing numbers of children below five years of age visiting doctors with symptoms of running nose, coughing, and sneezing, director of the provincial Health Department, Dr Nanthy Souphanthong said, adding that total numbers had yet to be summarised.
However he confirmed there are no reports to suggest there had been any serious suffering causing death during the freeze.
More aid relief, mainly winter coats and blankets, is still needed to supply the poor to keep them warm, notably in rural communities, Deputy Head of Social Welfare Division of Xieng Khuang province, Ms Oudaphone Sausavanh said.
A technical official of Red-Cross for Huaphanh province, Mr Souni Vongsengkham said his province is also experiencing the same problem and is in need of more winter coats and blankets.
Provincial officials said they have mobilised aid relief from public contributions, along with the government assistance for the relief effort.
Since the cold weather has come along with the dry season, which began in October, many provinces have made requests to the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare calling for assistance.
Director General of the ministry’s Social Welfare Department, Mr Padeumphone Sonthany said the ministry has divided the budget for each province to purchase aid items for distribution.
“We have responded to all the requests,” he told the Vientiane Times .
He added that the aid relief sought by the ministry has also been distributed to villagers by state leaders who made trips to local communities.
Although provincial officials said more aid relief is still needed for their provinces, Mr Padeumphone confirmed that the ministry has not received further requests after the previous ones.
Head of the Assistance and Relief Division of Lao Red Cross, Dr Bountheung Maenvilay said the organisation had also not received aid requests. But he said the Red Cross has told its provincial offices to mobilise aid since the beginning of the cold season.
The Meteorology and Hydrology Department said this year Laos experienced its coldest weather for many years.
From today, the department has forecast that weather will be about 1-2 Celsius warmer in many parts of Laos, but will be colder again during the Chinese new year at the end of this month.
This year’s extreme weather conditions recently forced schools, notably in the coldest regions, to delay opening hours. But school children are now on holiday for a week after midterm semester exams.
The Healthcare Department, Ministry of Health confirmed there are no reports to suggest there has been any serious suffering or deaths as a result of the freeze.
Souce: Vientiane Times