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Flood victims to be moved from 'critical' Nakhon Sawan

After a long section of dykes collapsed on Monday, Nakhon Sawan remains critical as flood levels are still high, threatening a mass evacuation of around 200,000 residents.

Provincial governor Jitkasem Nirojthanarat said yesterday some evacuation in the worst hit areas is underway, as water levels reach four metres and tapwater and electricity are cut off.

"The situation in Nakhon Sawan, especially in the municipality, is critical, with the entire area under a flood level of at least one metre," he said.

Repair work to a dyke section near Lao market in Muang district is proceeding slowly because sandbags can be brought in only on barges, as all roads are under water.

The last 13 patients willing to be evacuated from Sawan Pracharak hospital have been transferred to other nearby centres where medical services are available, after water 70cm deep flooded the building. Hospital director Dr Sakchai Nilwatchararang said some other patients had been discharged.

A government relief centre at Sawan Pracharak reported that 22,000 residents in 17 communities living near it were being evacuated, with the help of 20 barges donated by China. Police patrols had been increased to guard against theft and break-ins. Residents were encouraged to cooperate with the evacuation and begin moving out during daytime, as there was no electricity in many areas.

Another lane of the main road linking Sing Buri and Lop Buri has been closed after a bridge collapsed, prompting further congestion of available lanes used intermittently as a reversible path for traffic. In several sections, one lane is occupied by flood victims camping on it.

Bhumibhol dam will now release only 10 or 15 per cent of its water after earlier releasing a huge 100-million cubic metres daily. Director Bun-in Chuenchawalit said yesterday this was because there was less floodwater in areas beyond the dam now.

The daily volume released will be around 10 or 15 million cubic metres each day from now on, under a joint decision by a national committee overseeing irrigation policies. The previous daily release of 100 million cubic metres caused high flood levels in many provinces beyond the dam, and drew criticism from affected villages.

Bun-in said the cold weather felt yesterday in the North was one of a number of good signs that had emerged, together with receding levels in three rivers - the Ping, Mae Chaem, and Mae Tuen - that feed water to the dam.

A weather forecast from the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department yesterday said an approaching depression and a monsoon would cause normal and heavy rain in the southern provinces of Ranong, Phang Nga, Phuket, Krabi, Satun and Trang, where a mudslide risk remains. Residents living at the foot of hills or near waterways are advised to watch the colour of waterways and be ready to escape if it turns brown or is full of sediment.

An official flood damage report update yesterday said 281 people were listed as drowned with two missing, while the number of flooded provinces has dropped from 30 to 26. Around 2.2 million people living in 766,267 households in 10,344 villages in 187 districts had been affected.

A total of 9,670,726 of farms and 128,429 fish farms have been damaged or flooded, and 223 roads in 34 provinces.

The volume of water trapped by major dams is still considered excessive - with 99 per cent in Bhumibhol dam in Tak, 98 per cent in Uttaradit's Sirikit dam, 100 per cent at Khaew Noi dam in Phitsanulok, and 130 per cent in Pa Sak Chonlasit dam in Lop Buri.


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