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More evacuations loom

Chatuchak, Phasi Charoen, Nong Khaem, Nong Chok, Min Buri get orders; BMA gets more pumps

Chatuchak district in centralnorth Bangkok, Phasi Charoen and Nong Khaem districts in the capital's west and Nong Chok and Min Buri in the east yesterday joined the list of districts ordered to be evacuated by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration.

Chatuchak - which houses the headquarters of the new government Flood Relief Operations Centre (FROC) and the Mor Chit 2 bus terminal - is directly north of Victory Monument in Phaya Thai district and the Din Daeng expressway exit. Both landmarks are now under threat from the flood water, which yesterday spread farther down Phaholyothin Road and the VibhavadiRangsit highway.

In Nong Chok district, selected tambon at greatest risk of flooding were told to evacuate, with residents in the remaining areas advised to stay alert and prepare for immediate relocation, Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra said at a press conference.

Eleven Bangkok districts have now been ordered to evacuate in full, including Phasi Charoen and Nong Khaem, along with the residents of the worstaffected parts of Nong Chok.

The flood water level at FROC inside the Energy Complex near the Lat Phrao intersection reached 20 cm, but the site is being continually drained. The compound is surrounded by an 80cmhigh flood barrier, and is on alert to evacuate in the event that the barriers break, but the government said it has no plan as yet to relocate FROC again.

Certain areas and tambon in Thon Buri, Lat Phrao and Min Buri districts have been placed under special observation to watch for flash floods.

Sukhumband yesterday thanked Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra for removing bureaucratic red tape that had earlier prevented water pumps from being delivered to the BMA by skipping the usual multistep procedures, and for mediating in a dispute between the city authority and the Royal Irrigation Department. As a result, the BMA has been able to double the number of water pumps installed around the city to 24.

The governor said stagnant flood water was likely to remain in the city for a month barring further rain or deluges of runoff water. "All the BMA can do now is to heighten relief operations, as it is not possible to drain all the flood water out of the capital immediately," he said.

"But if more flood water arrives, the problem will remain with us," he added.

An entire section of Phaholyothin Road from the fiveway Lat Phrao intersection to the Saphan Khwai area is now fully inundated, while the flood water has spread eastward to Soi Lat Phrao 45, prompting closure of traffic from there to the Ratchadaphisek intersection. Motorists have been advised to avoid travelling on Ratchaphruek Road from Bang Waek canal to Phetkasem Road.

The military and business operators based in the Bang Chan industrial estate are working day and night to prevent flooding there, as water is leaking in through the compound wall from the swollen adjacent Lor Lae canal, while nearby Saen Saeb canal remains full to the brim. All factories in the compound remain open, but some have reduced their production level in preparation for possible evacuation of staff and machinery.

Around 30 per cent of military vehicles - most of them trucks - employed in floodrelief efforts have broken down due to constant use in badly flooded areas. Defence Minister Yuthasak Sasiprapha yesterday called on the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority to resume city bus services in minimally flooded areas or those that have been drained.

"City buses may also be used additionally with military trucks in areas that are badly - but not entirely - flooded, while the brokendown military trucks undergo repairs and maintenance," he said.

Transport Minister Sukampol Suwannathat said Route 340 from Taling Chan to Bang Bua Thong would be preserved as the main road to the South if flooding of Rama II Road cannot be prevented. The government has yet to make a final decision on a proposal that parts of Rama II be blown open by explosives to quickly drain flood water to estuaries in the area.

Yingluck earlier dispatched six FROCorganised caravans of relief supplies to residents stranded in flooded homes: three were sent to Bangkok areas and one each to Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani and Nakhon Pathom. Along with relief supplies, medical and veterinary services, rafts and boats, mobile toilets and free repairs from volunteer mechanics were also provided.

FROC has initiated a policy of pairing 18 provinces that have been spared flooding with 18 inundated districts of Bangkok to provide food and assistance to those in need when requested. A plan is underway to set up a central kitchen in Bangkok to continually provide freshly cooked meals to floodaffected residents.

The Public Health Ministry said it had opened 776 shelters capable of accommodating 188,000 evacuees.


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