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Severe floods claim 11 lives in southern Thailand

March 30, 2011

 

BANGKOK, March 30 —  The number of current flood-related deaths in the southern provinces now stands at 11 with the most casualties–seven persons–registered in Nakhon Si Thammarat followed by three victims in Surat Thani and one in Phatthalung, Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Director-General Vibul Sanguanpong said on Wednesday.

Officially 716,110 persons have been affected by the floods in eight southern provinces – Nakhon Si Thammarat, Phatthalung, Trang, Chumpon, Songkha, Krabi and Phangnga.

Their Majesties the King and Queen have given funds to the Red Cross for emergency help to flood victims in southern provinces, naval and other ships are involved in rescue and supply operations, and the prime minister and flood relief coordinator Satit Wonghnongtaey have gone south to inspect the actual conditions.

Local residents in low-lying areas and along slopes and hillsides in 11 southern provinces are warned of possible mudslides and flash floods. The provinces include Chumphon, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Ranong, Surat Thani, Phatthalung, Trang, Satun, Songkhla, Phangnga, Krabi and Phuket.

Meanwhile, a patrol vessel was unable to reach nine people, including a four-year-old girl, stranded on Maipai Island off Krabi for three days due to rough seas with five-metre waves. The authorities were renewing efforts to take them aboard today.

Fisherman Amnuay Manyerb said he was fishing nearby he learned of those who were stranded, put his family ashore and left his family on the island to bring more food. Due to strong winds and high waves, he has been unable to return and contacted the authorities for help.

In Krabi, a bridge was damaged, disrupting traffic from the provincial seat to Krabi Airport.

In Trang’s Nayong district, flooding from the Bantad mountain range continues in several subdistricts and the Trang River has overflowed, flooding low-lying areas in the municipality, including the  municipality’s fresh market, under one metre of water, with initial damage of two million baht. A number of roads are impassable.

One lane of the Asian Highway in Chumphon’s Langsuan district has been reopened after a mudslide was removed. Workmen are clearing all sections lanes. In Phangnga, floods hit farmlands and extended to cover wider areas. Flash floods damaged roads and electric poles fell on roadways particularly on the Takuapa-Phangnga Road.

Pichit Wattanasak, director of the Phuket provincial disaster service said rain continued falling in Phuket, Phangnga and Krabi. The centre has sent 46 flat-bottomed boats to help flood victims in Krabi, Phangnga, Surat Thani and Trang.

In other developments, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Minister Attached to the Prime Minister’s Office Satit Wonghnongtaey, in his capacity as director of the National Flood Relief Coordination Center, left Bangkok this morning to inspect the flood situation.

Mr Abhisit told reporters before leaving Bangkok that the situation has not yet improved and that the government planned to evacuate people in at-risk areas.

The premier was earlier scheduled to arrive at Royal Thai Air Force Wing 7 in Surat Thani before going on to Nakhon Si Thammarat’s Tha Sala district, but changed plans and landed at Trang and went by road to Nakhon Si Thammarat as the plane could not land at Surat Thani.

Upon arrival at Nakhon Si Thammarat, he was to be updated on the flood situation by the governor, and visit flood victims at Tha Sala Hospital and Pak Phanang district.

Mr Abhisit said the situation remains critical due to heavy downpours and said the floodwaters had cut many roads. He pledged that the government would do its best the help local residents.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban presided over a ceremony at Government House to send relief packages to flood victims in the southern provinces.

He said the Royal Thai Navy ship HTMS Chakri Naruebet has arrived at Koh Tao off Surat Thani to rescue tourists stranded there due to bad weather. The vessel would eventually move to Koh Pha-ngan and Koh Samui to deliver 15,000 relief packages.

Mr Suthep gave reassurances that the relief packages would be delivered to all flood victims in every flood-hit province.

On Monday the Cabinet will consider increasing its financial aid limit from Bt50 million to Bt100 million for each flood-affected province and will approve a central budget allocation to help flood victims at the level of Bt5,000 per family, he added.

The latest flood has affected some one million people as many provinces have been hard hit by the heavy rains and flood, Mr Suthep said. (MCOT online news)

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