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PM visits Prachin Buri as flood crisis intensifies

Posted by Nuttapon_S On September - 30 - 2013

Yingluck tours hardesthit province, where industrial estates are under threat; more rain coming

THE FLOOD crisis in Prachin Buri was the focus of attention yesterday amid forecasts of more rain on the way and fears that local industrial estates could be submerged.

The eastern province has been the hardest hit, as it holds water running south from Nakhon Ratchasima, which is receiving run-off from Khao Yai National Park. Areas facing the biggest flood threat include the large Industrial Estate 304, where 20 factories are already flooded. And Prachantakham district is already inundated with a flood one to two metres deep.

The flood threat at Prachin Buri’s industrial areas prompted a visit yesterday by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Banharn Silpa-archa, de-facto and chief adviser of the Chart Thai Pattana Party, which has MP seats in this province. They inspected many areas, met with flood victims and handed relief supplies to them. Many of these came in bags with a sticker picture of Thaksin, the fugitive former premier, on them.

A large number of villagers in two tambons in Prachantakham closed a road in protest at the authorities’ alleged lack of care. Prachin Buri has faced flooding since September 19, with both urban and rural areas under a high level of water, some of which is now stagnant.

The flood situation remains grim, with incoming Typhoon Wutip threatening to bring heavy rain to the Northeast and lower North, which have already been hit hard and have many areas under water.

A weather forecast issued yesterday said Wutip was expected to reach Hue in Vietnam by today or tomorrow, and later slow down when reaching the Thai Northeast. Meanwhile, a monsoon nearing the southwest is also expected to bring heavy rain to coastal provinces near the Andaman Sea, and high seas are likely in the Gulf of Thailand.

Yingluck, as defence minister, had instructed military units to help flood victims in their vicinity. She also told the Public Health Ministry to give counselling to flood victims for their mental well-being, as well as treatment and medicine.

Banharn told reporters he had volunteered to Yingluck to take care of the situation in Prachin Buri on a regular basis if she is busy. He said the province had been hit by a record volume of water – the highest over a 30-year period, plus an influx from neighbouring Sa Kaew.

In a flood damage update yesterday, there have been 19 people killed in flood-related accidents or drowning, while some 27 provinces have areas under water. Floods have affected 783,000 households in 224 districts, with more than 2.7 million people.

The situation was better in five provinces: Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chumphon, Kanchanaburi, Kalasin and Nakhon Ratchasima.

In hard-hit Ubon Ratchathani and Si Sa Ket provinces, some 15,254 people were evacuated from 4,416 flooded homes, according to the update by the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation.

Both Yingluck and Banharn also visited Kabin Buri, where the floodwater level remains high. In a report by provincial governor Jittra Phromchutima, they were told that two people drowned, 11,765 households were affected, 94,601 rai of farmland, 605 fish ponds, and 311 roads were flooded or damaged. Some 77,979 heads of cattle had also died.

Meanwhile, Democrat Party deputy spokesperson Mallika Bunmeetrakool said she doubted that Bt120 billion said to have been spent on flood prevention projects was fully allocated for such measures. She alleged that a woman with close ties to the government had demanded 40 per cent cut – or “tea money” from contractors. Mallika said she would lodge a complaint with the National Anti-Corruption Commission asking for an investigation into spending on flood projects.

The Public Health Ministry said yesterday more than 26,000 patients had received treatment for waterborne diseases – Athlete’s Foot, body pain and headache. The report also said 35 small hospitals and government clinics had been flooded but public services at those places were continuing.

Mobile medical units from government hospitals had provided services 504 times, plus 18,500 home visits, with 80,000 medical kits given out to flood victims. Another 120,000 kits were ready for distribution and an order had been placed to obtain 300,000 more kits, the report said.

Public Health Minister Pradit Sintavanarong said health volunteers would make visits at locations where residents, such as the elderly and sick, were prone to post-flood diseases, including Leptospirosis, “pink eye”, dengue, and watery bowel.

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