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Heaviest rain in 30 years: PM 


King voices concern as southerners brace for more downpours and death toll hits 21

Eleven provinces were warned to expect more heavy downpours yesterday and today, as many areas of the South remained inundated following the heaviest rains in 30 years.

[Earlier developments]
The severe flooding came after “the worst rainfall in more than 30 years”, Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha told reporters yesterday, as the death toll reached 21.
His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn, meanwhile, has voiced concern for people affected by the southern floods, Deputy Premier Wissanu Krea-ngam said yesterday.
Privy councillors Paiboon Koomchaya, Dapong Rattanasuwan and Wirat Chinvinijkul met with the prime minister at Government House for 40 minutes yesterday, during which they relayed the King’s concern and inquired about how the government will aid victims in need of food and shelter, Wissanu said. 
Wissanu said the government would officially open its coordination centre to aid the flood victims today. The aid coordination centre is at the Prime Minister’s Office.
The Cabinet meeting today will involve related agencies such as the Agriculture and Co-operatives Ministry and the Interior Ministry in talks on measures to help flood victims, Wissanu said. 
There are fears that the flooding will get worse and could be exacerbated by landslides in at-risk areas.
The 11 provinces warned of more rain 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 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 said the floods had affected 958,602 residents in 12 provinces since January 1. But the situation had only improved in Yala. As well as 21 reported deaths 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 an active low pressure system over the Andaman Sea that will reach the Gulf of Martaban in Myanmar today. That was expected to cause persistent to torrential rain for the 11 at-risk provinces, potentially resulting in landslides.
He also warned small-boat owners to stay ashore for 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, three reservoirs in Bang Saphan were at capacity, while Anubal Bang Saphan School closed.
In Krabi’s Muang district, which was hit by flash flooding on Sunday, water receded 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 on Sunday night after he saved a child from drowning, but he was found alive in a bamboo stand at 2am yesterday. The exhausted cop 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 floodwater up to three metres deep.

Published : January 10, 2017

By : The Nation