By PRATCH RUJIVANAROM
THE NATION WEEKEND
A FLASH FLOOD in Prachuap Khiri Khan and Chumphon provinces on Friday killed two people and stopped much of the traffic between the Southern region and the rest of the country, as the heaviest rain in recent years lashed the southeastern coast since Thursday night.
Heavy downpours of over 200 millimetres within a single night triggered serious flash floods on Friday in Bang Saphan and Bang Saphan Noi districts in Prachuap Khiri Khan and some parts of Chumphon, and forced the evacuation of many people to higher ground amid fears of continuing flooding and broken reservoirs.
Two people had died as of press time on Friday, The Nation Weekend learned. An 85-year-old citizen from Chumphon, Phob Phatchana, drowned in waves from the fast-rising flash flood, as did a two-year-old boy from Bang Saphan district.
Prachuap Khiri Khan provincial governor Panlop Singhasenee said heavy rain since Thursday night inundated the low-lying areas of Bang Saphan and Bang Saphan Noi districts with high and fast-rising water.
With more rain to come, the governor asked people in flood-risk areas to evacuate to high ground or to the official evacuation centre at Bang Saphan Wittaya School.
“Due to the geography of our province, which has the high Tenasserim mountain range to the west and the Gulf of Thailand to the east, we are living in a risky area for flash floods, especially when we receive such intensive rain in a very short period of time,” Panlop said.
The Royal Irrigation Department sent tractors and equipment to widen the delta of Bang Saphan River in order to help drain more of the floodwaters out to sea, while many reservoirs in the district were being closely monitored after the sudden inflows of water from the mountains quickly filled small reservoirs.
With floodwater levels in Bang Saphan and Bang Saphan Noi districts continuing to rise, vehicles on Phetkasem Road, which is the main highway to the south, should be driven carefully and listen for updates from local authorities, warned the governor. Some parts of the road are flooded and impassable.
According to latest update as of Friday night, Phetkasem Road at Bang Saphan district was closed to all traffic, with the road inundated under 70 centimetres of water, while another section of Phet-kasem Road at Pathom Phon Intersec-tion in Muang Chumphon district was also closed due to 40cm-high floodwaters.
Bang Saphan Hospital was flooded and officials transferred 10 critically ill patients to Hua Hin Hospital and Prachuap Khiri Khan Hospital for safety, while at least five schools in the district were also closed.
According to National Hydroinfor-matics and Climate, Bang Saphan Noi district received 237.2 millimetres of rainfall on Thursday, over the 24 hours, while the three-day accumulated precipitation level for the district spiked as high as 365.8 millimetres.
The precipitation record shows the amount of rain during this flood was higher than in the past two flood events in December 2016 and January 2017. For those floods, the three-day accumulated precipitation level was at 187.6 millimetres and 290.4 millimetres respectively.