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More rains predicted to lash South

Five floodhit southern provinces will have to brace for more downpours and possible flash floods, according to the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department (DPMD).



"Heavy rain are forecast for eight southern provinces between January 6 and January 10," DPDM director general Wiboon Sanguanpong said yesterday.

Of the eight provinces, Songkhla, Yala, Pattani, Phatthalung, and Nakhon Si Thammarat just experienced flooding, which was triggered by cloudburst during the New Year holidays.

"It's possible that flash flood, overflowing and landslides may hit those provinces again," Wiboon continued.

The three other risky provinces, he added, were Surat Thani, Satun and Narathiwat.

"Please follow weather forecast news closely," he said.

He also warned small fishing trawlers against going out to the sea from today till next Tuesday.

According to Wiboon, relevant officials have already been instructed to prepare necessary equipment and manpower to ensure affected people receive immediate assistance should disasters hit.

He said anyone needing help from his department could call 1784 round the clock.

Earlier this week, floods hit 1,729 villages in 10 southern provinces including Songkhla, Yala, Pattani, Phatthalung, and Nakhon Si Thammarat.

In Songkhla's Hat Yai district, the worst hit spot saw the floodwater of up to 1.5 metres deep.

"We have already dispatched rescue teams to the affected areas," Wiboon said.

HM the Queen Sirikit, in her capacity as the president of Thai Red Cross Society, has already instructed the handout of relief items to the flood victims.

The society's secretary general Phan Wannamethee yesterday represented Her Majesty in giving 1,125 sets, worth Bt1.125million in all, to affected people in Narathiwat.

In a related development, Songkhla Governor Krissada Boonraj is pushing for the Bt3billion project to ease flood risk in his province.

The project is in response to His Majesty's initiatives.

"We plan to boost the waterdrainage capacity of the first drainage canal," Krissada said, "This is an urgent issue".

If the project is implemented, the canal will be able to facilitate the flow of up to two million cubic metres of water per second, up from the current 1.2 million.

His Majesty the King publicly recommended flood solutions for Hat Yai district in 2000. Thanks to His Majesty's advice, Hat Yai district saw a big boost to its waterdrainage capacity. However, when rainfall is too heavy, it is unable to cope and face flooding from time to time with serious flooding taking place in 2010.

"I hope the budget for this project will soon be approved because it's an urgent issue," Krissada said.

He said Hat Yai was an economic hub for the country, generating Bt140billion for the country's gross domestic product.

"The project is well worth. By spending Bt3.002 billion on the project, we will be able to prevent huge damages from flooding," Krissada added.

Office of Basic Education Commission secretary general Chinnapat Bhumirat said floods had ravaged 316 schools in the South.

"The damages are about Bt23million," he said.

He hoped the schools would be able to do quick repairs and reopen on January 9.






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