Tropical storm lashes upper Northeast
Mekong River levels rise to critical
The upper Northeastern provinces are being hit by a tropical storm centred in Vietnam raising the water level in the Mekong River to a critical point.
The provinces of Nakhon Phanom and Mukdahan are bearing the brunt of the tropical storm Son-Tinh which landed in Vietnam and was expected to downgrade to a depression as it moved into the upper Northeast of Thailand Thursday. As a result, heavy rains and flood warnings have been forecast for most of the country.
The provinces are on the bank of the river, which acts as an international borderline. Adding to the problem is the pumping of excess water into the river from farms and towns via feeder canals such as Lam Nam Songkram and Lam Nam Kam. This has caused the water level in the river to rise to a dangerous level, according to the local weather office.
Residents fear that once the river is unable to absorb water, it would lead to flooding in some areas.
The weather bureau in Nakhon Phanom announced Thursday that the river has risen to nine metres, which is about five metres above the critical point.
The surging water level has already slowed water diversions through rivers and canals and about 1,000 rai of farmland in the province is already underwater.
Niwat Jiawiriyaboonya, Nakhon Phanom municipal mayor, said more water pumps were being deployed in the 10 flood-prone areas to speed up water drainage from the river as heavy downpours have pounded the region for the past several days.
Central business districts and heavily-populated communities are being secured with sandbags and residents have been asked to follow weather updates and be prepared to move to higher ground.
The provincial office has also disbursed an emergency fund to combat flooding.
Soldiers and disaster mitigation officials are on standby and are ready to move into flooded areas along with medical teams to assist affected residents. Machinery and boats will also be deployed in case evacuations are needed.
The districts in Nakhon Phanom most vulnerable to flooding are That Phanom, Tha Uthen, Sri Songkhram, Ban Phaeng and Na Kae.
In Kalasin province, located in the lower Northeast, a red alert was issued by the main Huay See Thon reservoir in Muang district after it began to overflow, posing a threat to flooding downstream into residential areas of downtown Kalasin.
The reservoir was forced to open its two spillways.
Kalasin provincial governor Kraisorn Kongchalad said an anti-flood and landslide command centre was opened to work out measures to counter the floods and ease the plight for residents.
He warned residents in low-lying areas to evacuate. Inundation is also affecting 641 families and has damaged 1,264 rai of farmland in Khao Wong, Na Khu, Huai Phung, Tha Khantho, Sahatsakhan and Kuchinarai districts.
In the central plains province of Ayutthaya Thursday, the chamber of commerce assured investors in the five industrial estates in the province that adequate measures were in place to battle floods and prevent the estates from being hit.
Some operators of the estates were looking for assurances from authorities after their factories were submerged in the 2011 flood disaster.