Vientiane Times, January 26, 2016.
People and livestock in upland areas of northeastern Laos are struggling with the freezing cold as temperatures in some areas dropped to zero, while lowland areas too have been taken by surprise. Low temperatures are currently being experienced throughout the country, with the cold being accompanied by strong wind and rain in some places, notably Phongsaly, Huaphan and Xieng Khuang provinces.
The temperature in Xamneua district, Huaphan province yesterday dropped to zero degrees Celsius, while Phongsaly recorded 1.5C and Xieng Khuang 0.2C, the Meteorology and Hydrology Department reported. Some upland areas of Huaphan province experienced frost. Many people commented on social networks on Sunday that it was snowing but the department confirmed that it was not. However, every part of the country will have cold weather, wind and rain in the next few days, according to weather forecasters. The department called on everyone to protect their health, keep warm and stay out of the cold, especially the elderly and children. Meanwhile Lao VIVO Company is calling for contributions from the public to help the poorest people in the hardest hit areas of Phongsaly, Huaphan and Xieng Khuang provinces. A few buffaloes in Nongkhang village, Xamneua district, Huaphan province died due to the cold, while the provincial livestock and fisheries section expected to report more livestock deaths. One Huaphan resident, who works for the provincial Agriculture and Forestry Department, said the fine rain looked like snow but she couldn’t be sure because this was the first time she had seen such a phenomenon. The lowest temperature recorded in Vientiane yesterday was 10.4C, while Oudomxay reported 5.0C, Huayxai district in Bokeo province 7.1C, Luang Namtha province 5.0C, Luang Prabang province 7.1C and Xayaboury province 8.8C . Xaysomboun province saw temperatures drop to 4.5C, Phonhong district in Vientiane province recorded 9.3C, Pakxan district, Borikhamxay province 9.7C, Km20 in Khammuan province 3.3C, Savannakhet province 10.2C, Pakxe district in Champassak province 14.5C, Saravan province 16.1C, Xekong province 12.2C, and Attapeu province 19.1C.
Many other countries have also been affected by unusually cold weather. Temperatures have dropped in other parts of South East Asia as well, including Vietnam and Thailand. In Bangkok, which rarely sees temperatures below 20C, a minimum of 16C was recorded on Sunday, while Vietnam had its coldest weather in about two decades over the weekend with Hanoi recording a 6C minimum. Taiwanese media reported a rash of deaths from hypothermia and cardiac disease following a sudden drop in temperatures over the weekend. Meanwhile heavy snow forced the closure of the airport on the Korean holiday island of Jeju, with all flights cancelled. The cold spell has also hit Hong Kong, southern China and Japan, BBC News reported yesterday. Now storms have hit large parts of Japan as well, with more than 600 domestic flights cancelled across the country on Sunday and Monday. At least five people have died from the snow so far and more than 100 have been injured in Japan.