Sukhothai on edge as water breaches bank

Sukhothai on edge as water breaches bank

Embankment break threatens villagers

The Yom River has overflowed its banks and inundated many small villages in Sukhothai. (Video grab ThaiPBS)
The Yom River has overflowed its banks and inundated many small villages in Sukhothai. (Video grab ThaiPBS)

Residents in Sukhothai's Si Satchanalai district are encountering a threat of severe flooding after a massive amount of water burst out of an earthen crest of the Mae Tha Phae reservoir.

The damage occurred almost at the same time as parts of a flood wall along a section of the Pasak River in Phetchabun's Lom Sak district also collapsed, causing powerful overflow into riverside communities.

But while officials in Phetchabun managed to plug the breached sections of the flood wall with sandbags many hours after the problem occurred, the situation in Si Satchanalai district posed a concern as water from the reservoir was expected to reach the nearest villages in tambon Sarachit in Si Satchanalai at midnight last night.

According to an initial report, a 40-metre section of the embankment near the reservoir's spillway collapsed, triggering a rapid rise of water in Mae Tha Phae canal and strong water flow threatening to inundate homes downstream.

The incident erupted as the crest of the reservoir was being repaired, Thnakrit Thaobunyuen, village head of Ban Moo 9 in tambon Sarachit, said after learning of the damage late on Wednesday night.

An immediate warning was sent to residents in tambon Sarachit urging them to move to higher ground, he said.

As of early Friday, several villages along the Pasak and Yom Rivers had been flooded and residents forced to move.

In Phetchabun, local officials and villagers spent many hours curbing flooding after overflow from the Pasak River swept through the ruptured flood wall and flooded about 100 houses in tambon Lan Pa.

Parts of the flood wall reportedly collapsed as it could not resist the strong current of water in the river, following days of widespread downpours in the Central Plains.

The incident raised fears among residents in nearby Moo 7 village as they were worried part of the flood wall in their neighbourhood may suffer similar damage. Currently the water level behind the wall is nearly one metre higher than an adjacent road.

"I can't sleep. I don't know how long the wall can resist the strong water currents," one villager said.

Many parts of Phetchabun are already under water after days of torrential rain in most parts of the country. Phetchabun and 13 provinces mainly in the Central Plains and the Northeast are struggling to deal with flooding, according to the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation.

Others are Tak, Phichit, Nakhon Sawan, Chai Nat, Sing Buri, Ang Thong, Ayutthaya, Lop Buri, Nong Bua Lam Phu, Maha Sarakham, Kalasin, Roi Et and Khon Kaen.

The situation in Khon Kaen is currently volatile as water in the Ubonrat dam is overflowing, forcing more water to be discharged.

This has rapidly increased the water level in the Phong River, triggering floods in Khon Kaen's Muang district. Officials in Muang Sila municipality set up tents to serve as a temporary shelter if the inundation becomes more severe and villagers need to evacuate.

So far, more than 240,000 people have been affected by the floods with six people dead, said Chayaphon Thitisak, chief of the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation.

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