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Floods to cost farmers Bt20bn

Economic damage to the country's agricultural sector caused by flooding will likely reach Bt20 billion this year, according to the Kasikorn Research Centre (KRC).

As of last Thursday, the damage to the sector was estimated at Bt8 billion. But the KRC said the full cost will not become clear until the last quarter of the year, given that the floods struck just as rice farmers were about to harvest their crops.

Flood water has already swamped millions of rai of farmland.

A large part of the country's rice basket, which covers Suphan Buri, Ayutthaya, Chai Nat, Pathum Thani and Nakhon Sawan, is inundated.

The KRC has revised down the expected growth rate in the country's agricultural sector. From a previous forecast of 22.7 per cent, it now puts the figure at 21.4 per cent - despite KRC's expectation that the price of rice will soar in the fourth quarter.

The overall economic toll will jump even higher if authorities fail to shield Bangkok from floods, the centre said.

More rain is forecast, as a monsoon trough is expected across Thailand's Central and lower northeastern regions from todayTuesday through Friday.

Run-off water continued to race down the Chao Phraya River yesterday, with a flow rate of up to 3,952 cubic metres per second measured in Nakhon Sawan, bringing the water level there to 15 centimetres above the permanent embankment.

Part of a sandbag wall erected by locals to protect the province's economic district crumbled yesterday, causing panic among medical workers at Ruampat Hospital and shop owners in the Nakhon Sawan municipal area. Officials plugged the holes in just over half an hour.

In Angthong, water from the Chao Phraya River flowed into the Noi River, deluging houses along the latter. Sixty centimetres of water enveloped buildings at Wisetchaichan Tantiwitaya-phum School.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shina-watra will meet relevant authorities at Government House tomorrow (sep21) to plan measures to protect Bangkok and its adjacent provinces from floods.

"I will present information from satellites and more. Maps, for example, will show roads and waterways," Geo-Informatics and Space Techno-logy Development Agency (Public Organisation) acting director Dr Anond Snidvongs said yesterday.

Deputy Bangkok Governor Pornthep Techapaiboon said the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok was almost at the overflow point. "But we are well prepared," he said.

Bangkok Governor MR Sukhum-bhand Paribatra said a water gate was opened last night to divert water from the Chao Phraya River into the Padung Krungkasem Canal. "The step was taken to lower the water level in the river," Sukhumbhand said.

Apart from the Chao Phraya River, the Bangkok Metropolitan Adminis-tration (BMA) is also watching the water discharge from the Pasak Jolasid Dam in Lop Buri. Water from this dam flows into the Pasak Dam, along which the Rama VI Diversion Dam was constructed. The Rama VI Dam, located in Ayutthaya's Tha Ruea district, is connected to the Rapipat Canal, which leads to eastern Bangkok.

"We are closely monitoring the situation in risky areas," Pornthep said.

The BMA has allocated Bt1 billion for flood-prevention measures, which include buying sand, crushed stones and other materials. Temporary barriers along waterways can be made from sandbags and bags of crushed stones, if an overflow is imminent.

The Emergency Operation Centre for Floods, Storms and Landslides yesterday reported that flooding had continued to wreak havoc in 26 provinces, upsetting the lives of more than 1.5 million people. The official death toll from flooding and related incidents was 112. However, three more deaths were reported in Chai Nat yesterday.

According to Highways Depart-ment director-general Veera Rueng-soksriwong, floods have damaged 372 roads under his agency's jurisdiction and repairs will likely cost up to Bt2.859 billion. Department of Rural Roads director-general Vichan Kunakulsawat said the flood damaged 460 roads under his agency's supervision between July 28 and yesterday. He estimated the damage at about Bt3.524 billion.


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