PM enlists more Army help

national October 17, 2011 00:00

By The Nation

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Military will take up flood fight in 5 worst-hit provinces : FROC allays concerns Bangkok would be overwhelmed


As the flood threat appears to ease in Bangkok, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has assigned the Royal Thai Army to oversee centres tackling major problems in five provinces, according to the Flood Relief Operations Centre.
The centre’s spokesperson, Pol General Pongsapat Pongchareon, said at a press conference at Don Mueang airport, that the PM had ordered the Army to handle the flood crisis, including air operations and life search missions – in Nakhon Sawan, Ayutthaya, Nonthaburi, Lop Buri and Pathum Thani.
The Flood Relief Operations Centre’s General Palanggoor Klaharn said the United States would also send helicopters to help search for and rescue flood victims marooned in their homes.
 To save Pathum Thani province’s Nava Nakorn Industrial Park from flooding, Gen Palanggoor said the centre had instructed officials to drain water and strengthen the sandbag barricades.
“We ask people not to drag sandbags from the barricades. They should listen to their governors as they know how to control the flood,” he said.
Meanwhile, the critical mass of runoff had already passed the capital on its way to the sea, easing fears of Bangkok’s inundation, Agriculture Minister Theera Wongsamut said yesterday.
“Since June, the country has faced a huge amount of water, but the situation is improving as run-off from the North has stopped,” he said.
Theera said the water released by all major dams, including Bhumibol, Sirikit and Pasak, has returned to normal levels.
Over the past few days, the rate at which water flows through the Chao Phraya River at Nakhon Sawan has stabilised at 4,630 cubic metres per second, he said, confirming no additional run-off from the North.
The water in the Central region, including Ayutthaya, Sing Buri and Angthong, had not increased and some areas saw the inundation dropping slightly, he said. Occasional swollen waterways were due to high tides and not additional water.
Authorities were trying to drain 400-500 million cubic meters per day of excess water into the sea.
In Bangkok, the rising Chao Phraya River reached a record peak on Saturday morning at 2.29 metres, about one centimetre below the forecast level.
The inundation at Rojana Industrial Park in Ayutthaya would not impact the capital because the water would be diverted and drained via a system of 10 canals in Rangsit. The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration and the Royal Irrigation Department constructed two dykes to rein in excess water.
The Flood Relief Operations Centre said water drainage into the sea had proven effective, allaying concern that Bangkok would be overwhelmed.
Chalit Damrongsak, director-general of the Irrigation Department, said the water level had stabilised after the country saw run-off draining into the sea.
Water in low-lying land is expected to flow slowly into the Chao Phraya River. Rangsit residents should be commended for their cooperation in allowing the water to drain via Khlong Rangsit 8 to 10, a crucial move to save the capital from the floods, Chalit said.
Flash flooding in parts of Bangkok over the weekend was attributed to heavy rain and not run-off.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra chaired a ceremony to start the operation to speed up the drainage by mobilising boats to propel water into the sea.
Some 500 boats joined together at Phra Nang Klao Bridge, Nonthaburi, to boost the downstream flow. More than 1,000 boats were mobilised for the lower portion of the river.
Yingluck said the government was committed to the three-pronged strategy for drainage. Water would be drained via the East, the West and the Chao Phraya River.
The government was intensifying the dredging of the eastern and western waterways to speed up the water flow. Boats and pumps would be deployed for drainage.