East races to fight killer floods

2 killed in Chanthaburi, army placed on stand-by

Chanthaburi is bracing for water run-off which threatens to trigger flooding in its economic zone, while neighbouring Trat has rushed to drain water from areas prone to the incoming high tide.

Residents of a community by the Chanthaburi River walk through ankle-deep floodwater Wednesday. The river overflowed due to heavy rain. PATTANAPONG HIRUNARD

The situation looks volatile in Chanthaburi, which has already been flooded in many areas by heavy rain, as its major commercial areas are likely to be hit by run-off from Makham and Khao Kitchakut districts.

Chanthaburi governor Surachai Khanasa has ordered the reinforcement of flood prevention measures in the town centre and told residents, especially those living near the Chanthaburi River, to move their household items to higher ground.

Water levels in the river continued to rise as a result of a high tide which, when combined with the run-off effect, could worsen flooding in the eastern province.

On Wednesday, floodwater remained between 50 centimetres and one-metre-high in many areas in tambon Trok Nong in Khlung district and the suburbs of Muang district. The flood has also forced 14 schools to suspend classes.

There have been reports of at least two deaths so far.

An 8-year-old boy, Phirawat Iamchan, was reportedly washed away by strong currents while walking with his brother near Khlong Lamduan in tambon Tha Chang in Muang district yesterday.

The boy was trying to retrieve a sandal, which was floating in a canal, but he lost his balance and fell in.

Earlier, a man was electrocuted while fishing in a pond at Thung Na Choei in Muang district.

The flooding in the province has gained the attention of the royal family. His Majesty the King and Her Royal Highness Princess Bajrakitiyabha's Friends in Need Volunteers Foundation are providing survival kits to affected villagers.

In Trat, officials are trying to protect Trat municipality against flooding as high tide is expected to bring more water to the province, which has already been hit by heavy rainfall.

Officials are using water pumps to reduce water levels, including in canals, in many areas to brace for the high tide, said Thanet Pluemkit, chief of Trat's Regional Irrigation Office.

As for flooded areas in Khao Saming, Muang and parts of Bo Rai districts, officials continue to reach out to victims.

Many residents in tambon Sato in Khao Saming district have been evacuated from their neighbourhood in Moo 7 of Ban Thung Krabok, where flooding reached between two and three metres.

Elsewhere, flash floods caused by rainfall on Tuesday night hit parts of Nakhon Ratchasima's Muang district but the water had begun to recede in many areas.

Office of Regional Irrigation 8 chief Anumas Thongthaem played down concerns of serious flooding in the province as its five major reservoirs still have enough room to hold rainwater.

Nakhon Ratchasima is among the provinces, including Chanthaburi, Trat, Ranong and Phangnga, which are expected by the Meteorological Department to encounter heavy rainfall.

The army yesterday mobilised 180 companies of troops across the country to help flood victims.

All soldiers were told to prepare to conduct rescue missions.

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