Tropical storm Gaemi about to hit Thailand

Eastern and northeastern provinces will face rainfall and strong winds later on Friday as tropical storm Gaemi moves closer to Thailand, the Meteorological Department has confirmed.

As the department issued its latest warning, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra was confident that Thailand is prepared to cope with the first tropical storm to hit the country in three years.

All government agencies and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) are draining water from canals and reservoirs to prepare for the impact of Gaemi, the prime minister said.

Latest, as of 7pm Thursday (Thailand time): Gaemi has turned west and is forecast to make landfall on Saturday, on the central Vietnamese coastline just south of Hue. According to NASA forecasters, the storm "is packing a lot of power around its middle and on the (leading, western) side.

This infographic as of Thursday evening is from the Weather Underground website.

The Meteorological Department has forecast more rain and possibly strong winds in other parts of the country on the weekend when the storm enters Thailand from Vietnam and Cambodia before it leaves the country on Monday. Other affected areas will be the central region and southern provinces, it added.

Hospitals in the provinces expected to be hit by the storm, including Chanthaburi, Trat, Sa Kaeo, Prachin Buri and Nakhon Ratchasima, have been told to prepare for an emergency situation and ordered to stay alert around the clock from Friday, according to Public Health Minister Witthaya Buranasiri.

In Bangkok, the BMA's drainage office has prepared five million sandbags for the worst case scenario and worked with the Royal Irrigation Department to help push water in all canals close to the capital out to rivers and the Gulf of Thailand. City Hall has drained water in all canals in the inner part of Bangkok.

Bangkok Governor MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra said the BMA can handle the impact of Gaemi and added that he did not expect the capital to be heavily flooded.

"If rainfall is no more than 100 millimetres, some areas will be flooded to only 30 centimetres high and the water can be drained in one day," the governor said.

Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat said on Thursday that the military is ready to cooperate if the government wants to use defence areas to retain flood water.

The military was always on standby to help if Bangkok is hit by heavy rain, he said. Soldiers would be sent to help at trouble spots, provide transport assistance and help solve traffic problems.

"We would be glad to comply if the government wants to use the area of the 2nd Cavalry Division as a monkey cheek (water retention area) since there are many ponds and swamps in it," ACM Sukumpol said.

"Other areas held by the 11th Infantry Regiment and 1st Infantry Regiment can also be similarly used." 

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