Southern provinces brace for further heavy downpours and landslides today.
There are fears that the expected worsening flooding could be exacerbated by landslides in at-risk areas.
The 11 provinces are Ranong, Phang Nga, Phuket, Krabi, Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chumphon, Surat Thani, Phattthalung, Nakhon Si Thammarat and Trang. In Nakhon Si Thammarat yesterday, there was a landslide at the Thung Song-Ron Phibun section of Highway No 41, where motorists were forced to use one lane to transit the area.
Nakhon Si Thammarat International Airport also announced an additional suspension of services for today and tomorrow due to a flooded runway. Technicians are scheduled to inspect the runway and the airport’s electronics systems today.
Meanwhile, Lower Pak Phanang Irrigation Office director Kornnarom Wannakul said the Pak Phanang River basin was inundated with 1 billion cubic metres of floodwater, which would take up to 20 days to drain.
In Sichon district in Nakhon Si Thammarat, soldiers from the Fourth Special Warfare Camp yesterday trekked six kilometres to aid residents of Ban Huai Kaew (Moo 3), where about 50 homes were damaged by floodwaters and a bridge connecting the village to the outside world was destroyed.
In a separate assessment, Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation chief Chatchai Phromlert yesterday said since January 1 the Southern floods had already affected 958,602 residents in the 12 provinces of Phatthalung, Narathiwat, Yala, Songkhla, Pattani, Trang, Surat Thani, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Chumphon, Ranong, Krabi and Prachuap Khiri Khan. Only in Yala had the situation been resolved, he added.
Along with the 21 reported death as of yesterday, two people were missing while five state offices, 218 road sections and 59 bridges were damaged, he said.
Chatchai cited a Meteorological Department report showing there was an active low pressure system over the Andaman Sea that would reach the Gulf of Martaban in Myanmar today. That will result in persistent to torrential rainfall for the 11 at-risk provinces, potentially resulting in landslides.
He also warned small-boat owners to stay ashore for the next two to three days.
The Education Ministry yesterday announced that 2,253 schools in the South had suffered flood damage worth Bt768 million.
In Prachuap Khiri Khan’s Bang Saphan district, five days of heavy rain caused Klong Bang Saphan to rise, resulting in flooding in various areas.
At Bang Saphan Hospital, officials erected sandbag barriers and installed water pumps. Although the hospital was not flooded, its surgery and childbirth services were suspended as equipment was removed as a precaution, while 30 critical patients out of the 100 being treated at the facility were moved to a six-storey building on the hospital grounds as a precaution.
As rain continued yesterday, three reservoirs in Bang Saphan were at capacity, while the area’s Anubal Bang Saphan School was closed.
In Krabi’s Muang district, which was hit by flash flooding on Sunday, floodwaters receded yesterday and the bodies of two drowned men were recovered.
Muang Krabi Municipality mayor Kiratisak Phukaoluan said 400 homes in the area had been damaged, mostly along Klong Krabi Yai, where the flooding was more extensive than that seen during the 2011 floods. His office has set up a flood-aid centre at Thesabal 1 Talad Kao School. Khao Phanom district reported that a 60-year-old woman was missing as a result of Sunday’s flooding.
A traffic policeman in Muang Krabi, Sgt-Major Kritthanapol Samranjit, was swept away by floodwaters at about 9.15pm on Sunday after he saved a child from drowning, but he was found alive tangled in a bamboo stand at about 2am yesterday. The exhausted policeman was rushed to Krabi Hospital and released later yesterday.
In Trang, whose six districts were declared flood-disaster zones affecting 50,000 people, various state offices continued to remain closed along with 25 schools including the 1,800-student Saparachinee 2 School that was under floodwaters of up to three metres deep.