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PM visits Prachin Buri as flood crisis intensifies

Posted by Nuttapon_S On September - 30 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

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.

Govt places flood battle before crops

Posted by arnon_k On February - 4 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

Preventing repeat crisis leads water strategy

Flood prevention will take priority over crop irrigation in setting water management strategies for this year, the government announced yesterday.

Water levels in the country’s main dams in the upper North will be reduced sharply over the coming months to ensure discharges during the rainy season will be as low as possible.

Last year’s devastating floods were worsened in part by huge water discharges from the country’s largest dams to relieve excess capacity in September and October following a series of late-season tropical storms.

Critics argued that water levels were kept far too high going into last year’s rainy season for fear that there would insufficient water to support the agricultural sector.

But the Strategic Committee for Water Resources Management (SCWRM), chaired by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, announced yesterday that flood prevention would take precedence over crop irrigation.

Pramote Maiklad, a SCWRM member and former director-general of the Irrigation Department, said water levels at the Bhumibol and Sirikit dams would be slashed to 45% and 41% respectively by May 1.

According to the Irrigation Department, the water level at the Bhumibol Dam was at 82% of total capacity as of yesterday, compared with 55% this time last year. At the Sirikit Dam, the water level stands at 80% of capacity, compared with 69% last year.

Kitti Tancharoen, an assistant governor of the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat), said the utility would manage discharges from the country’s dams at minimum levels from August to October while keeping water levels sufficient to meet power, consumption and irrigation needs.

Anond Sanitwong na Ayudhya, another SCWRM member, said Bangkok would be spared flooding this year if the various water management projects are implemented on schedule.

A model estimating the efficiency of the water management projects showed water pressure in Bangkok would fall by nearly half to about 4 billion cubic metres based on similar conditions to last year, when five tropical storms combined to result in the country’s worst floods in over 70 years.

Mr Anond said under the model, areas such as Don Mueang, Sai Mai and Laksi would be safe, although some parts of Pathum Thani, Ayutthaya and Nonthaburi would still be at risk.

Areas in Phichit, Nakhon Sawan and Phitsanulok would be designated as catchment areas in case of excess rainfall. Authorities estimate up to 2 million rai of land could be designated for water retention, with the Agriculture Ministry to announce a compensation plan for affected farmers next month.

Farmers in designated areas will be restricted from planting second rice crops, reducing demand for irrigation water and limiting economic damage if flooding occurs. In exchange, the farmers will receive state compensation at an amount yet to be determined.

The SCWRM also approved a framework establishing a single command authority to oversee water management and flood prevention issues.

Two temporary committees will be established in the interim to coordinate water management plans.

SCWRM secretary-general Vichien Chavalit said the committees will also be tasked with monitoring various short-term initiatives earmarked for 17 billion baht in funds this year.

A permanent committee will be established later to manage long-term water management strategies and infrastructure investments.

The government has announced plans to invest up to 350 billion baht in long-term water management infrastructure projects nationwide.

Floods halt air, rail services

Posted by arnon_k On January - 4 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

Some areas under 2m of water, Yala dries out

Heavy rain and flash flooding yesterday continued to wreak havoc in the southern region, especially in Muang municipality of Nakhon Si Thammarat.
Other parts of the South were hit as well, prompting hospital evacuations, halting airline services and forcing train passengers to continue their journeys by bus. But despite some provinces struggling with rising floodwater, levels were receding in the deep South.

In Nakhon Si Thammarat, runoff from Luang and Nun mountains, triggered by steady rain over the past four days, caused unprecedented massive flooding, putting several main roads and residential communities under deep water.

The floodwater in some communities, such as Bo Sap and Ban Tok, ran as high as two metres, forcing locals to resort to using boats to get around.

Authorities were mobilised to assist flood victims and evacuate those who wanted to move to safety.

Bad weather forced the provincial airport authority to suspend all flights, stranding several hundred passengers.

Rail passengers travelling north were advised to board trains at Thung Song station because tracks between Nakhon Si Thammarat station to Thung Song station were submerged.

Those travelling south were asked to disembark at Thung Song station and take buses provided by the rail agency to their destinations.

The floods battered six districts, three of which _ Nop Phi Tham, Tha Sala and Sichon _ have been declared disaster areas. In Tha Sala district, flash flooding breached an earth dyke and hit Tha Sala Hospital. The entire ground floor was inundated, forcing the hospital to suspend all medical services for outpatients except emergency cases.

Twenty patients were moved to Maharaj Hospital, 45 to higher floors and 35 others sent home.

The Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation said flash flooding and runoff has hit nine out of the 14 southern provinces with almost 60 districts inundated.

In Chumphon, Lang Suan district was the latest casualty after four districts _ Phato, Lamae, Thung Tako and Sawi _ were inundated earlier.

Run-off flooded Lang Suan Hospital and forced the evacuation of two critically ill patients to Surat Thani.

Hours of steady rainfall yesterday morning flooded both inbound and outbound lanes of a stretch of Asian Highway 41.

The floodwater was 50cm high, making the stretch impassible to all vehicles.

In Phatthalung, several municipal areas were left covered in high levels of floodwater following heavy rainfall.

Phatthalung Hospital was forced to relocate patients and equipment to higher floors and reinforce a dyke to keep the floodwater out.

However, the floods subsided in several provinces, providing respite for residents and businesses.

Yesterday, Yala was improving and authorities expected the situation to return to normal in a couple of days.

Earlier, floods ravaged six Yala districts affecting almost 52,000 people.

It also claimed the life of nine-year-old Sareeta Sa-u, who drowned.

Governor of Narathiwat province Apinant Suethanuwong said yesterday authorities were inspecting damage in 11 flood-hit districts to ask the central government for help with rehabilitation and repairs. He said the damage assessment should be completed within a week and urged residents to be prepared for future flooding.

Authorities yesterday handed out flood relief supplies from Their Majesties the King and Queen to seven flood-hit residents in Narathiwat’s Rueso district.

The victims’ houses were swept away in runoff.

Nationwide flood toll: 762 deaths

Posted by arnon_k On December - 26 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

More than 20,000 villages in 22 provinces have since Nov 2 been declared disaster areas suffering from cold weather, the Disaster Relief and Mitigation Department said on Monday.

The 22 provinces are Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Mae Hong Son, Phrae, Uttaradit, Phitsanulok, Nan, Tak, Phayao, Lampang, Lamphun, Sakon Nakhon, Loei, Nong Khai, Nakhon Phanom, Ubon Ratchathani, Maha Sarakham, Mukdahan, Kalasin, Buri Ram, Suphan Buri and Ratchaburi.

A total of 2,744 villages in 70 districts of six provinces in the upper part of the country – Ayutthaya, Lop Buri, Nakhon Pathom, Pathum Thani, Nonthaburi and Bangkok – are still affected by flooding. The accumulated death toll was 752, the department said.

In the South, Phatthalung, Trang, Surat Thani, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Narathiwat, Songkhla, Yala and Pattani provinces are also sufferring from floods. The death toll in the region was 10.