Emergency teams evacuate trapped and work to clear flooded areas hit by landslides.
FLOODS AND heavy rains brought by tropical storm Sonca continued to wreak havoc in upper parts of Thailand, particularly the Northeast yesterday.
Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha instructed officials to aid flood victims and clear flooded or landslide-blocked roads or railways and provide alternative transportation for people, said Government Spokesman Lt-General Sansern Kaewkamnerd.
Most parts of Sakon Nakhon city and roads were submerged while Sakhon Nakhon Airport announced it would temporarily close until this afternoon or until the flood situation improved. Some parts of the city also had electricity blackouts. Sakon Nakhon Hospital had to move patients to upper floors away from the flood.
Muang district’s Huai Sai reservoir also overflowed, worsening the situation, and forcing many families in downstream villages to evacuate to higher ground.
Nearly 70 tourists were trapped at a hotel surrounded by floodwater in Muang district on Friday afternoon, said Facebook user “Ich Bin Som”. The Facebook user also posted pictures of the situation at the 75-room Hop Inn Hotel to the public group “Sakonnakhoncity Photo” to call for assistance. Several other hotels and apartments and even a shopping mall also reported marooned people in need of aid.
Sakon Nakhon disaster prevention and mitigation office head Nitiwat Nitthinanthan said that over 100 flood victims had moved into a temporary shelter at the provincial administrative organisation stadium. He said people trapped in flooded homes should call the flood command centre’s number at 0 4271 1171 for help.
The command centre at the provincial governor’s residence would monitor the situation and dispatch staff and tools to aid affected residents, he added.
In Nakhon Ratchasima, 229 villages in five districts of Theparak, Prathai, Sida, Bua Lai, and Noen Daeng were submerged. Worst-hit Prathai reported 15,800 residents affected, and 28 roads, three reservoirs and 28,000 rai (4,480 hectares) of farmland under water.
In Khon Kaen’s Muang district, floodwater as deep as one-metre hit the city area on Thursday afternoon, especially Maliwan Road, where 30 cars were damaged. Road islands were demolished by the authority to help drain floods faster.
Days of heavy rains and northern runoffs have led to the Yom River bursting the flood barrier dam in Sukhothai’s Muang district, sending 80cm-deep floods to the Muang Sukhothai Municipality’s fresh market yesterday morning. The flood barrier had leaked the night before, resulting in slight flooding, but officials sealed the hole with large sandbags and continued to monitor the situation.
At 5am, the river bust the flood barrier again, 30 metres from the previous night’s leak. This time the floodwaters flowed along the Ratchathani Road and vendors at the market’s 50 shops had to close their businesses temporarily in the wake of 40cm- to 80cm-deep torrents.
As officials attempted to seal the new leak behind Wat Chai Chumpol in the afternoon, another 100-metre-long section of the barrier broke and floods covered the municipality’s economic area, including Rat-uthit, Thassanapanich roads. Wichien Jamnong and Khlong Taphetch communities were also submerged.
Yom River in front of the provincial governor’s residence was at 7.37 metres and flowed at 549 cubic metres per second between 8am and 2pm.
Royal Irrigation Department deputy chief Thongplew Kongchan cited a report by the Smart Water Operation Centre that noted the largest volume of water in the Yom River had passed Sukhothai’s Sri Satchanalai district via Ban Hat Saphan Chan sluice gate at 697 cubic metres per second at 4am yesterday.
The department was diverting water through Khlong Hok Baht at 170 cubic metres per second to help lessen flood risk to the Muang Sukhothai Municipality area by keeping it at a “manageable” level of under 550 cubic metres per second.
In Maha Sarakham, the widespread flooding has prompted the Highway Department to temporarily close two bridges on Highway 208; the bridges at kilometre markers 12+400 and 17+137 were under 50 centimetres of water and showing signs of erosion. Motorists are advised to instead use other routes.
Permanent Secretary for the PM’s Office Jirachai Moontongroy said his office’s fund to aid disaster victims was currently Bt700 million from previous flood donations.
He said the fund committee would have a meeting on August 4 to consider criteria to compensate and assist flood-affected residents nationwide.
He said each province had a Bt20 million budget reserved for disaster mitigation from the Interior Ministry, so they would consider providing aid as soon as possible.