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Floods threaten six provinces

Posted by arnon_k On October - 20 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

Chao Phraya basin braces for deluge

Six Central Plains provinces have been placed on high alert against heavy flooding expected to be triggered by overflows from the North.

Provinces most vulnerable to the deluge are Sing Buri, Chai Nat, Ang Thong, Pathum Thani, Ayutthaya and Nonthaburi, Royal Irrigation Department spokesman Boonsanong Suchatpong said yesterday.

The six provinces would be unable to avoid flooding as a vast amount of water from the North and from Pasak Jolasit Dam in Lop Buri was approaching.

The department is trying to drain as much water as possible from the Chao Phraya River basin before Saturday, when the sea water level will begin to rise because of king tides.

Irrigation officials are worried the rise in the sea water level from Saturday to next Tuesday would worsen the flood situation in the Central Plains as it would hamper drainage.

“We are trying our best to minimise the flood impact but it is impossible to make all areas [in the Central Plains] free from flooding,” Mr Boonsanong said.

Bangkok is well prepared for the situation as the capital has the capacity to divert up to 50 million cubic metres of water a day from the city.

Flooding in Nakhon Ratchasima has continued to wreak havoc although efforts have been made to divert waters from flood-hit districts through Chalerm Phrakiat and Chakkarat districts to the Mekong River bordering Ubon Ratchathani.

Khunpoj Buathone, an engineer attached to the water crisis prevention centre at the Water Resources Department, said flood waters in Pak Chong and Pak Thong Chai districts had begun to recede. Although an estimated 400 million cubic metres of water was being released from the spillway of the overflowing Lam Phra Phloeng reservoir, this would not increase flood levels in the two districts as water was being diverted at a rate of 400 cubic metres a second to the Moon River which flows into the Mekong River in Ubon Ratchathani’s Khong Chiam district .

Mr Khunpoj said the Moon River was expected to burst its banks today and tomorrow and inundate areas in Satuk district in Buri Ram and Rasi Salai district in Si Sa Ket before reaching Ubon Ratchathani.

Residents in communities near the Moon River should prepare for rising waters, he said.

Nakhon Ratchasima governor Rapee Pongbuppakit said 24 of the province’s 32 districts had been flooded. More than 200,000 residents had been affected and about 470,000 rai of land damaged.

The governor said flood waters would soon reach Chalerm Phrakiat, Chakkarat, Non Thai and Non Sung districts.

The Education Ministry said buildings and equipment at 112 schools and educational institutes in Nakhon Ratchasima had been damaged. Urgent repairs were being made to ensure the schools could open for the new semester in 12 days.

Flooding has also begun to affect areas in other northeastern provinces.

In Surin, the provincial irrigation office was draining 7 million cubic metres of water a day from the overflowing Huay Saneng reservoir in Muang district, leaving at least 5,000 rai of farmland under water.

In Chaiyaphum, local residents were evacuated to higher ground as the Lampathao reservoir in Kaeng Khro district overflowed.

The overflow from the Chulabhorn Dam in Khon San district also swamped areas in several districts and flood waters were expected to hit Khon Kaen in the next two days.

In Ayutthaya, Methadol Wichakana, head of the historical park, said the Chao Phraya River was close to overflowing with water being released from the Chao Phraya, Rama VI and Pasak Cholasit dams.

Flash floods batter Korat

Posted by arnon_k On October - 19 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

– Troops, police rush to rescue those trapped – Death toll rises to 5, PM visits

Nakhon Ratchasima and its provincial capital have been ravaged as flash floods wreak havoc in the Northeast and Central Plains following heavy weekend monsoon rains.

Swirling currents which swept through the province’s Muang district have crippled government and private businesses and forced hospitals to close.

Troops, police and volunteers worked frantically yesterday to help rescue residents trapped in their homes, their operations hampered by strong currents and high waters.

The flooding is most critical in Pak Thong Chai and Muang districts. Five people have been killed in Korat. One person was found dead in Pak Chong district, two in Sung Noen and two in Dan Khun Tho, officials said.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva yesterday inspected the situation in Nakhon Ratchasima municipality.

Locals asked him to speed up distribution of survival kits as relief operations have not reached many areas.

“Prime Minister, bring us food and sandbags,” villagers shouted as Mr Abhisit’s boat passed their homes.

Heavy military trucks and flat-bottom boats were used to evacuate people from flooded areas and deliver food and water to affected communities.

Most roads in the provincial town were under water. Many cars and pickup trucks were submerged and left on the street because their owners were unable to move them to higher ground before the deluge hit.

“I’ve never seen a flood disaster this big in my entire life. I remember there was a big flood in 1959, but that was much less devastating than this one,” said a woman in her 50s as a rescue worker evacuated her mother from their flooded home in Muang Nakhon Nayok municipality to safety.

Before the rescue unit arrived, residents joined forces to help each other. Men carried the young and old on their backs to safety through the swirling currents.

Other villagers struggled desperately to retrieve their belongings from the surging waters.

“Please help me build a [flood] barrier,” a woman who owns a sports equipment shop in the municipality asked a journalist as she tried to create a wall of sandbags in front of her shop.

“I’ve lost everything now,” she said.

Nakhon Ratchasima governor Rapee Pongbuppakit said 21 of the province’s 32 districts had been inundated and declared disaster zones.

The floods yesterday hit three hospitals in the province, leaving thousands of staff, patients and visitors stranded on the higher floors.

At Maharat Hospital in Muang district, the floodwaters in the hospital were about 1.5 metres high yesterday afternoon.

The hospital was ill-prepared for the inundation and the bodies of six patients who had died and were being kept on the ground floor were seen floating in the mortuary.

The hospital has set up a temporary service centre outside the hospital to serve patients and relatives.

About 250 patients at the nearby Psychiatric Nakhon Ratchasima Ratchanakharin Hospital fled to higher floors after the ground floor was flooded.

At St Mary’s Hospital off Mittraphap Road, the ground floor was also flooded. All hospital staff, patients and their relatives were stranded.

Officials said about 6,000 people were trapped at Maharat and St Mary’s hospitals. They asked for donations of food, drinking water and other essential items for those trapped.

Affected villagers say what is most needed is cooked rice as they have no electricity or cooking utensils. Many villagers want sandbags to try to block floodwaters from entering their homes.

– Highways Hotline (24 hours): 1586
– Flood Information Line: 02-354-6551
– Highways Police: 1193
– Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department Hotline: 1784

And down came the rain

Posted by arnon_k On October - 18 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

Residents cut off, trains halted, factories close

Nakhon Ratchasima has declared 15 of its 20 districts disaster zones as flooding continues to wreak havoc on homes, farms and public services.

Flash floods caused by heavy rain swept a handful of provinces at the weekend, including Nakhon Ratchasima, Lop Buri, Nakhon Nayok, Chaiyaphum, Nakhon Sawan and Phetchabun.

The floods have brought train services to a halt and forced factories to close and residents to evacuate their homes.

In Nakhon Ratchasima, flooding is the worst in 50 years. Governor Rapee Pongbuppakit yesterday declared 15 districts disaster zones.

More than 100,000 residents were affected as floodwaters in most areas rose to more than one metre yesterday. More than 20,000 rai (3,200 hectares) of farmland have been inundated.

Pornsut Thongsard, of the State Railway of Thailand, said flash floods yesterday forced train services to a halt at three spots in Nakhon Ratchasima, one location in Chaiyaphum and one in Nakhon Sawan.

Solid rain submerged some sections of track in one to 1.2 metres of water.

More than 1,000 police were deployed to help motorists along Mittraphap Highway covering a wide stretch of the road from Nakhon Ratchasima’s Muang to Pak Chong districts.

In Pak Thong Chai district, more than 100 households in Muang Pak municipal area were isolated as severe flooding cut access roads and hampered efforts to evacuate residents.

In Sung Noen district, floods stranded hundreds of workers inside their workplaces for more than 10 hours.

Tiring of the wait, hundreds of staff from four factories in the Navanakorn Industrial Estate late yesterday waded through floodwaters up to 1.3 metres deep from their factories to the estate’s entrance.

Most factories at the industrial estate were closed temporarily.

In Lop Buri, three tambons in Muang district – Nikhom, Tasala and Kokko – and several areas in Chai Badan district were flooded after water levels in the Sub Lek and Sub Takien reservoirs overflowed the watergates.

In Nakhon Nayok, flash floods from the hills inundated more than 10 villages.

Many roads were cut off and villagers moved their belongings to higher ground to prevent damage.