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Ranong hill to be checked for cracks

The Mineral Resources Department will examine a limestone hill in Ranong after it cracked and sent nine big rocks hurtling down.

"These rocks must have weighed several tonnes each," Surin Sinkan said, adding that one of the rocks stopped just 200 metres from a house. He is the village chief of |Moo 2, Ban Kork Chang in La-un district.

"It could have brought the entire house down," Surin said.

Pipat Prompat, who owns the house, said he heard rocks hitting trees and decided to flee on a motorcycle.

"When I returned, I found so many trees uprooted," he said. "I am very scared now and don't know when more of these rocks will come rolling down the hill again."

Surin said initial inspection revealed that the limestone hill, called Khao Ta Thong or Khao Look Klang, was cracked in several spots.

"We have already marked the cracks with red flags to warn the locals.

"We have also reported this to relevant authorities so that further action can be taken," he explained.

He said the rocks had rolled down the hill after several days of rains.

A source said the Mineral Resources Department was preparing to dispatch officials to examine the structure of the hill before issuing a warning.

"The department plans to survey Ranong again after landslides and mudslides recently in areas beyond those declared risky," the source said. The last survey was conducted in 2007.

SEVERAL PROVINCES HIT HARD

Now that the rainy season has started, several provinces have been struck by natural disasters.

In Surat Thani's Phunphin district, the homes of more than 1,000 families were flooded, with the water well over a metre deep in some areas. HRH Princess Chulabhorn Valayalaksana sent a representative yesterday to hand out 500 sets of relief items to the victims.

In Nakhon Phanom, raging torrents in the Mekong River partially broke the bank, affecting the owner of a nearby house.

"The torrents took away a large chunk of the bank. Fortunately, the pillars of my house were standing firm, otherwise my entire family would have been killed," Suriya Huangharaj, 65, said.

Local officials have tried to help Suriya's family by building a sandbag embankment along the damaged stretch of the bank.

In Sukhothai, farmers started harvesting their rice crop.

"The crops are not yet ready, but we have to harvest it now before the entire yield is flooded," Boonlert Meechai, 50, said.

In a related development, First Army Region chief Lt-General Udomdej Seetabut said soldiers under his unit had already dredged 98 canals in Bangkok to help prevent floods this year.


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