By THE NATION
The flood-related death toll across the country yesterday stood at 55, according to the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department (DPMD). The eight provinces are Phichit, Sukhothai, Phitsanulok, Nakhon Sawan, Ayutthaya, Angthong, Chai Nat and Ubon Ratchathani.
In Phichit alone, as many as 11 deaths were reported.
Police found the latest victim in Phichit's Taphan Hin district at 6am yesterday. Weerapat Sukkhum, 22, apparently drowned in the floodwater.
Dr Surasen Thangthong, who heads Phichit's Primary Education Service Area 1 Office, said 20 schools under his jurisdiction were closed indefinitely in the wake of severe flooding.
"It's not possible for children to go to the heavily flooded schools," he said.
In Phichit's Primary Education Service Area 2, 27 schools suspended classes indefinitely.
According to Phichit's chief of disaster prevention and mitigation, Sanlek Kamjai, floods have affected more than 100,000 people in the province. Up to 70 per cent of the province's farmland - or about 140,000 rai - have been damaged.
"Floods have raged on for about three weeks already," Sanlek said. "Judging by the current situation, it will likely take at least one month for the floodwater to completely subside."
In Phitsanulok, floods have damaged 321,001 rai of farmland and affected 77,242 people.
Three deaths have been reported, and the Public Health Ministry has found that up to 29 flood victims in Phitsanulok had become suicidal.
DPMD deputy director-general Chatpong Chatphut said flooding had likely ravaged more than 3.37 million rai of farmland.
"Up to 394,327 people are now flood victims," he said.
The House of Representatives yesterday voted to set up an ad-hoc committee on flood prevention and solutions.
The committee was tasked with studying how to prevent flooding and drought.
It was expected to complete the study within 60 days.
As run-off water from upriver provinces is now flowing down the Chao Phraya River, downstream provinces such as Angthong and Pathum Thani have started feeling the effects. In Anthong, some corners in Mueang and Pa Moke districts were inundated.
In Pathum Thani's Sam Khok district, the Bang Toei Market was under 20cm of water yesterday.
Deputy Interior Minister Choochart Harnsawas yesterday held a meeting with Pathum Thani MPs and provincial Governor Pirasak Hinmuangkao to draw up flood-prevention plans.
The Royal Irrigation Department, meanwhile, said people living on the banks of the Chao Phraya River below the Chao Phraya Dam should start building embankments made of sandbags.