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Mae Sot declared disaster zone after Moei River breaks banks

Vendors in Tak's Mae Sot district were forced to suspend business yesterday when the Moei River burst its banks following days of heavy rain.

About 100 border patrol police officers and rescuers rushed to the scene to help evacuate the area, which was under about 50 centimetres of water. About 300 shops operate along the bank of the river, which demarcates the border between Thailand and Myanmar.

The floods also reached downtown Mae Sot after the spillway of the Mae Sot Reservoir overflowed. Police had to divert traffic from Rachakarn Rassadorn Damri 2 as well as roads near the Mae Sot district office, which were under 70cm of water.

Authorities declared Mae Sot Municipality an emergency zone, and advised residents to evacuate the area and move their belongings to higher land.

Meanwhile, Tassanai Buranapakorn, mayor of Chiang Mai Municipality, inspected the 10 flood barriers along the Mae Ping River to see if they were holding up now that it has been raining heavily for two weeks now.

Last year, more than 800 cubic metres of water per second flowed past Chiang Mai Municipality, though the Mae Ping River was only able to handle 500 cubic metres of water per second. Authorities were not able to increase the river's capacity because structures were blocking the flow. Plus there are no water retention areas in the municipality.

"We hope these barriers will prevent Chiang Mai City from flooding this year," Tassanai said, adding that the Pa Prao Nok community was at risk of inundation because it is based in a low-lying area.

Since the authorities have not been able to complete the barrier in time for this year's rainy season, they have decided to build a temporary dyke instead and install water pumps to drain the area.

Meanwhile, the Thai Meteorological Department reported that provinces in the North and the Northeast can expect heavy rain for the next couple of days, while Bangkok and neighbouring provinces can expect light rain showers.

In a related development, local residents reported a slight tremor in Uttaradit's Ban Khok district yesterday morning, but there were no instances of damage, Somboon Kositanon, director of the mineral resources office in Lampang, said. Official reports said a quake of 3.1 magnitude, with its epicentre in the district, had hit the area at 8.01am yesterday.

Somboon said the earthquake had been caused by a slide in the Nan-Uttaradit faultline. This quake was of the highest magnitude this year in the area, compared to the 2.8-magnitude tremor that struck Chiang Rai's Thoeng district on January 31 and then another in the province's Muang district on April 5.

Thanarat Phummakasikorn, director of the Sirikit Dam, said the quake's epicentre was 13 kilometres underground and about 62.5 kilometres from the dam. He confirmed that the quake had had no impact on the dam, which was still open to tourists.


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