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Storm barrels through Sangthong, damaging 56 houses

A total of 56 houses in Sangthong district, Vientiane, were damaged by a storm that lashed the area on Monday evening, bringing thunder, rain, hail and strong winds.
The storm followed a weather alert on the same day by the Meteorology and Hydrology Department under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, which warned of storm activity from March 3-5.

The department said hot weather was forecast for all regions of the country while Vientiane and the provinces of Phongsaly, Huaphan, Xieng Khuang, Oudomxay, Xayaboury, Luang Prabang Vientiane, Borikhamxay, Khammuan, and Savannakhet could expect rain, hail and strong winds.
In Vientiane, the storm passed through six villages in Sangthong district from 17:30-18:00 pm on Monday, with 56 houses, a market, shops and rice warehouses suffering damage, according to an official from the district Administration Office, who asked not to be named. 
The storm caused more than 191 million kip worth of damage. In one village, a 10-year-old girl was badly injured when a piece of roofing fell on her while a six-month-old baby in another house sustained minor injuries due to falling debris.
Authorities are calling on officials and local people to help repair the damaged houses and schools.
Storms were also forecast for other parts of the country but none have been reported elsewhere.
The Meteorology and Hydrology Department is advising officials and residents to be prepared for weather changes, and to take precautions to protect children and elderly people.
During strong winds, people are advised to keep away from advertising signboards, trees and any unsecured structures at high risk of collapse. The department is also urging the public to monitor national and local news media for weather updates.
The ministry is keeping a close eye on weather conditions across the country, especially air quality and the level of particulate matter (PM) 2.5 pollution amid the widespread illegal burning of garbage, rice fields and scrubland, which has created a thick haze over Vientiane for several weeks.
Air quality tests conducted by the Natural Resource and Environment Research Institute showed that on March 3 the level of PM2.5 was 68.8µg/m3, which is higher than the set national standard of 50 µg/m3, over 24 hours.
At present air pollution exceeds the safety level and many people will have breathing difficulties as a result, the official said.
The government’s policy is to maintain air quality at safe levels. The Natural Resource and Environment Research Institute has been assigned to monitor the amount of particulates and consider measures to keep the air clean.

By Phomphong Laoin
(Latest Update March 4, 2020)

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