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Govt moves to protect inner city

Posted by arnon_k On October - 12 - 2011

Run-off sweeps through floodwalls in suburbs

The government has ordered every available measure be taken to protect Bangkok’s inner-city commercial and residential districts from flooding as torrents of northern run-off began to sweep through floodwalls in outer suburbs, inundating many communities.

Residents of Pathum Thani, Nonthaburi, Nakhon Pathom, Samut Prakan and Chachoengsao were warned yesterday to watch out for more flooding.

Northern run-off is expected to reach Bangkok between Friday and Monday at a time when there are also expected to be high sea tides.

Justice Minister Pracha Promnok, who heads the government’s flood relief centre, raised concern about the situation in the surrounding provinces.

But he said there was no need to declare a state of emergency as the provincial governors could handle the situation.

While efforts have been under way to protect Bangkok from being swamped, the minister said he could not confirm if the capital would be safe from floods, and it would depend on rainstorms, the run-off sweeping down from Ayutthaya and the high sea tides.

Flood prevention measures for Bangkok include diverting floodwaters to the sea and the water from the Pasak River to Khlong Rapeepat, Khlong Samwa and Khlong Saen Saep.

City Hall has also been instructed to dredge seven canals in Nong Chok and Lat Krabang to ensure they can take in more water.

The army and navy are also building floodwalls in the Muang Ake housing estate in Rangsit and in areas around the Rangsit canal, Salaya and Taling Chan to protect inner Bangkok from inundation.

Science and Technology Minister Plodprasop Suraswadi, chief of operations covering evacuation and flood prevention, gave assurances that inner-city areas of Bangkok would be safe.

But he admitted some suburbs, particularly in the east, west and north of Bangkok would be hit by run-off.

Water would be diverted to eastern Bangkok through Khlong Rapeepat, Khlong Prince Chaiyanuchit and Khlong Rangsit whereas run-off from the Tha Chin River would be diverted to western Bangkok, affecting Nakhon Pathom, Ratchaburi and Suphan Buri.

Veera Wongsaengnak, adviser to the Irrigation Department chief, said run-off from the Rojana Industrial Park in Ayutthaya would reach the Rangsit canal in the next few days.

Canal-side residents in Khlong Rangsit 1-6 are advised to prepare to evacuate to high ground if the canal’s banks are breached.

Defence Minister Yutthasak Sasiprapa said he had instructed troops to build floodwalls to protect eastern Bangkok where Suvarnabhumi airport is located.

Wilaiwan Nadwilai, the airport’s spokeswoman, said emergency plans are in place to deal with flooding at Suvarnabhumi.

She said the airport’s flood prevention system includes a 3-metre-high embankment stretching 23.5km around the airport, with a drainage ditch to drain floodwater to six water retention ponds which can hold up to 4 million cubic metres of water. There are also four water pumps at the airport which can drain one million cu/m of water a day, Ms Wilaiwan said.

The Rural Roads Department has been asked to dredge the Lat Krabang canal to ensure water is drained faster and more effectively, Ms Wilaiwan said.

At the Institute of Administration Development in Pathum Thani’s Thanyaburi district yesterday, more than 1,000 soldiers from the 2nd Infantry Division were racing to produce 1.5 million sandbags within two days to form a 12km-long floodwall along the banks of the Rangsit canal. The sandbag wall, to be at least 1.30 metres high, will prevent run-off from the North forecast between Friday and Monday from entering Bangkok’s inner city areas. Nearby residents have also been asked to help.

Meanwhile, soldiers from the 3rd Army were carrying about 150,000 sandbags on military trucks from Phitsanulok to reinforce floodwalls in Bangkok after floodwaters in the heart of Phitsanulok receded and the situation there returned to normal.

In Pathum Thani, deputy provincial governor Panthep Sriwanich said the Chao Phraya River yesterday burst through 11 floodwalls in Sam Khok district, inundating houses and vast areas of farmland in tambon Sam Khok and tambon Krasaeng. Wat Sopharam and Wat Hong Pathuma in Muang district were flooded after a nearby dyke was breached.

In Nonthaburi’s Bang Bua Thong district, Bang Bua Thong District Hospital was under a metre of water. Twenty three patients had to be evacuated to nearby hospitals.

Nonthaburi governor Wichian Phuttiwinyu said at least 3,000 households in many parts of the province have been hit by floods triggered by days of persistent rainfall. A floodwall in the province has also been breached.

Floodwaters have now risen to 1.2 metres. Soldiers and officials were struggling to help the flood-ravaged areas, Mr Wichian said.

Wim Rungwattanajinda, spokesman for the government’s flood relief operations centre, yesterday said City Hall has been assigned to dredge Khlong Ngu Hao, Khlong Bang Chalong amd Khlong Charakhae Yai whereas the Irrigation Department has been instructed to clear Khlong Prince Chaiyanuchit and Khlong Prawesburiram. The dredging work must be finished by tomorrow so the canals can take in more water coming from the North, Mr Wim said.

He said floods would be inevitable in Khlong Samwa, Min Buri, Nong Chok and Lat Krabang.

If evacuations are needed, City Hall will send out cars with loudspeakers to warn people at least three hours before the floods arrive.

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