Little respite for ravaged Central, South

Little respite for ravaged Central, South

More heavy rain likely, death toll hits 19

Thirteen provinces in the lower Central region and the South have been warned to brace for more possible flash floods as heavy rain is forecast over the next day or so, according to the Meteorological Department yesterday.

Outbreaks of heavy to very heavy rain are forecast for the 13 provinces from now until tomorrow as an active low pressure cell over the Andaman Sea and the west coast of the South moves north slowly into the Gulf of Martaban and Myanmar, according to the weather bureau.

The 13 provinces are Phetchaburi and Prachuap Khiri Khan in the lower Central region, and Chumphon, Surat Thani, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Phatthalung, Songkhla, Ranong, Phangnga, Phuket, Krabi, Trang and Satun in the South.

The main streets of Nakhon Si Thammarat town are knee-to-waist deep. (Reuters photo)

People should be prepared for severe weather conditions and possible flash floods caused by forest run-off from now until tomorrow, and should closely follow weather forecast updates.

A strong northeast monsoon still prevails over the Gulf of Thailand and the South, causing waves of up to 2-3 metres high in the Gulf and Andaman Sea.

All vessels should proceed with caution, and small boats should remain ashore for the next few days.

According to the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department, the floods have ravaged 10 provinces in the region since the new year, with the situation starting to ease in Yala and Ranong.

More than 958,000 people have been affected, with 19 people killed and one missing.

In Songkhla, fourteen of the 16 districts of the southern provinces have been declared flood disaster areas. Only Na Thawi and Thepha districts were spared the designation.

The air force deployed a C-130 military transport aircraft to carry relief items, essentials, food, drinking water and flat-bottomed boats to Wing 56 based in Songkhla where they were distributed to flood victims, particularly in Nakhon Si Thammarat's Cha-uat district which is among the areas hardest hit by floods.

Air Force personnel load relief supplies and essentials, including those from the Friends in Need (of 'Pa') Volunteers Foundation, onto a military transport aircraft at Wing 6 of Don Mueang on Sunday. (Photo by Thiti Wannamontha)

In Nakhon Si Thammarat, while floodwater levels remained high in some districts on the outskirts -- such as Cha-uat, Chian Yai, Chalerm Prakiat, Phra Phom, Tham Phannara, Nop Phi Tham, and Sichon -- flood levels began to recede in the provincial municipality, with road surfaces becoming visible.

The main roads in central Nakhon Si Thammarat -- Ratchadamnoen and Pattanakarn Khukwang roads -- were opened to all types of vehicles, though some communities were still submerged in 50cm-high water.

Government agencies and private companies yesterday set up kitchens at several locations and cooked food for flood victims.

Rawadee Hotel in Muang district of Nakhon Si Thammarat has also provided free accommodation for flood victims.

Capt Apichart Tinnaluck, head of a water-propelling operation unit based in Nakhon Si Thammarat, said huge waves forced the navy's giant dock landing ship, HTMS Angthong, to dock at a port of Songkhla, instead of a port at Nakhon Si Thammarat's Pak Panang district as originally planned.

From Songkhla, a total of 50 water-propelling boats were unloaded from the ship and carried on trucks to Nakhon Si Thammarat's Hua Sai and Pak Panang districts to support the draining of floodwater to the sea.

Each boat has the capacity of propelling 24 cubic metres of water per minute, Capt Apichart added.

In Trang, provincial governor Siripat Pattakul alerted flood-prone areas along the Banthat mountain range in Muang, Huai Yot, Na Yong, Yan Ta Khao, Palian districts, and those living on islands and near high hills, of possible forest run-off and mudslides as heavy rain had continued unabated in the province.

While flooding in most areas in Trang began to recede, floods remained high in areas along the banks of the Trang River as they took in water from upstream locations.

In Chumphon, Watjana Watjanakupt, head of the provincial disaster prevention and mitigation office, said the flood situation in Lang Suan district was still critical, with flood levels as high as one metre in low-lying areas, which was affecting local morale. At this stage, cooked food is the most essential for flood victims, she said, adding that more than 47,000 people in Chumphon have been affected.

Government spokesman Lt Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd said yesterday the Interior Ministry has contacted the Comptroller-General's Department to quickly allocate an additional budget of 50 million each to the flooded southern provinces.

Below: Surat Thani residents forced from their homes sleep outside a Lotus mini-mart, which provided flood victims with free food. (Post Today photos)

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