OFFICIALS in Nakhon Si Thammarat were in a race against time yesterday as major infrastructure was overwhelmed by flooding and more torrential rains were expected.
Urgent efforts were underway to drain the runway at the province’s main airport, which was inundated by runoff since late Wednesday night, and also to check aviation safety systems, airport director Suksawat Sukawanno said yesterday.
Flooding forced the airport to close as a safety precaution yesterday pending an assessment today, he added.
Airports Department chief Darun Saengchai said the airport had been closed since 1.50am yesterday and his department was monitoring the situation to determine when it could reopen.
In Songkhla, eight trains transiting Nakhon Si Thammarat Station, including one originating in Bangkok, were suspended for another two days as a flooded 200-metre railway section was to be repaired by tonight. The railway would also be subjected to a risk assessment, said Southern Train Operations centre head Banhan Kobyayang.
Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department chief Chayapol Thitisak warned that 10 provinces in the South, particularly Surat Thani, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Phatthalung and Songkhla, would face another round of heavy rains and possible flooding and landslides through Monday.
The other six provinces were Chumphon, Trang, Yala, Pattani, Satun and Narathiwat.
All of Nakhon Si Thammarat’s 465,399 residents in 163 tambons spanning 23 districts were affected by the floods and seven deaths have been reported with 277 homes partially damaged.
In Nopphitam district, forest runoff completely destroyed six homes and partially damaged 21 others as flash floods shocked residents, some of whom said the flooding was as bad as in 1988.
“I saw my house crumble before my own eyes,” said resident Sukanya Warapiang tearfully.
She recounted her feelings yesterday after flash floods struck the day before and brought down the house her family had lived in for more than 14 years.
“I worked very hard to own it. Now, there is nothing left,” she said, coming to grips with the life-changing event that had left her and her three children homeless. There had never been such serious flooding in the area before, she said.
A 1.59-minute video clip of forest runoff sweeping away homes in the Wat Tho Ek area of Phrom Khiri district, which was posted by a Facebook user last night, received an outpouring of online support.
At least 170 families saw their houses still submerged yesterday.
Residents were evacuated to a local temple and officials had provided initial aid.
In Tambon Khao Kaew of Lan Saka district, landslides two days ago reminded residents of a major landslide two years ago. Many claimed they heard the mountain “crack” during flash floods yesterday that poured a torrent of water into a river, sweeping away shacks selling souvenirs on the riverbank.
Authorities planned to check the area to determine whether it was safe to occupy.
Meanwhile, Muang Nakhon Si Thammarat Municipality warned downstream residents in Tambon Na Sai, Na Khian and Pak Poon of potential health problems linked to water that might leak from a pond that had became polluted by a nearby garbage dump.
Overflow from Khlong Tha Chak yesterday threatened to submerge the pond and disperse the polluted water as officials were using backhoes to build earthen dikes between the canal and the pond and pumping polluted water into a wastewater treatment system.