Bangkok likely to escape drenching

The storm clouds from Gaemi are edging closer to Bangkok, but because it has been downgraded to a depression, city Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra is hoping that the capital may not hard hit by rain as earlier predicted.

However, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration has been put on high alert, as have officials and the public in other provinces expected to be in the path of Gaemi.

The latest forecast by the Thai Meteorological Department downgraded Gaemi as it was passing over Cambodia and said it will become a low pressure wedge on entering the country over Sa Kaeo province on Sunday night.

MR Sukhumbhand said because of this, there might not be much rain in Bangkok in the next one or two days.

However, the BMA will continue to watch the situation and remain on full alert.

"City people can lead a normal life. They will be immediately informed if there is any change," he said.

Sanya Chinimit, director of the Drainage and Sewerage Department, said the BMA has drained water out of its canals in preparation for heavy rains.

Satellite photos showed that as of 1.20pm Sunday, Gaemi was moving in the direction of the Gulf of Thailand. Therefore, it was believed Bangkok might not be directly affected by the storm.

However, the situation would continue to be watched closely, he said.

In another development, Wasant Meewon, the BMA spokesman, said about 100 sandbags which were found in the drain along Srinakharin Road in fact belonged to the Drainage and Sewerage Department of the BMA, not of any other agency.

They were laid there to prevent water from Khlong Hua Mak from flowing onto Srinakharin Road so that the water which inundated the road could be pumped into Khlong Kracha more quickly.

Therefore, the sandbags should not be removed, Mr Wasant said.

Meanwhile, residents in Aranyaprathet City Municipality, where flood halted business last month, are worried about possible flooding caused by heavy rainfalls due to the arrival of Gaemi. Rain has began falling since 4.30pm Sunday.

The storm is predicted to hit Sa Kaeo by tonight, which has caused local people to rush building flood-protection walls of sand bags or concrete. 

The municipality officials and related authorities have prepared rescue equipment and personnel for the worst case scenario. 

Six thousand sand bags have been prepared to give to local people. 

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A man holds the water level measureing pole in Phra Prong water reservoir in Sa Kaeo province where the water level has reached full capacity and water must be released via spillways. (Photo by Patipat Janthong) 

According to information from Sa Kaeo Provincial Irrigation Office, Aranyaprathet City Municipality has only one water outlet connected to Tonle Sap lake in Cambodia, Klong Prom Hode, where the water level is currently 2 metres lower than the top of the canals bank.

He said the canal and other subsidiary waterways were constantly being filled for building houses and casinos along the Thai-Cambodian border.

Its possible that floods might sweep through municipal areas because of not having enough water ways, said the municipality mayor, Kornchai Thanasrikul. It also depends on rainfall tonight.

If the city is inundated this time, it is expected that water will remain in the city at least for a week.

Chulalongkorn sluice gate in Pathum Thani is releasing water from Klong Rangsit around the clock in preparation for heavy rain caused by Gaemi. (Photo by Apichit Jinakul)

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