7 missing in Mae Hong Son floods, camps at risk

7 missing in Mae Hong Son floods, camps at risk

5 kids among missing after huge mudslide

Rescuers and volunteers search Tuesday for seven people, including five children, declared missing at a Mae Hong Son refugee camp after Sunday night's mudslide. (Photo courtesy Royal Thai Army)
Rescuers and volunteers search Tuesday for seven people, including five children, declared missing at a Mae Hong Son refugee camp after Sunday night's mudslide. (Photo courtesy Royal Thai Army)

A search was intensifying at a refugee camp in Ban Mae La Oon in Mae Hong Son's Sob Moei district Tuesday to locate and rescue seven people, including five children, declared missing after the area was hit by a mudslide on Sunday evening.

Heavy machinery and equipment were mobilised in the search and rescue operation at the remote camp as local officials, soldiers, defence volunteers, and rescue workers expanded the area of their search to the nearby Yuam River.

A 2-year-old girl was killed and 12 people injured when torrents of earth and rock, triggered by heavy rain, poured down the hill and into Section 1 of the camp near the Thai-Myanmar border on Sunday.

Mae Hong Son governor Sirirat Chumuppakan chaired a meeting with concerned authorities on Tuesday to discuss aid and rehabilitation at the camp, which is home to about 10,000 displaced people from Myanmar, mostly ethnic Karen.

A relocation plan was raised to help preempt any further tragedy as the area remains critically vulnerable to mudslides and forest run-off in the event of heavy rain.

About 250 volunteers signed up to help with the rehabilitation efforts at the camp, where seven houses were damaged by the piles of earth and rocks.

Of the injured, four were sent to Mae Sareang Hospital, two to Si Sangwan Hospital and the rest were recovering at the camp's medical centre. All were out of danger.

It was the second deadly mudslide to hit the North in less than two months.

In late July, a mudslide caused by persistent rainfall in mountainous areas claimed eight lives and destroyed homes in Nan's Bo Klue district. The victims were all family members living in four homes.

Several villages in the northern provinces of Lampang and Nan were hit by floods triggered by heavy rain Tuesday morning, with the flood water as high as 1 metre in low-lying areas.

The worst-hit areas in Lampang were in eight tambons of Wang Nua district. The heavy rain brought about heavy mountain runoff and floods that inundated dozens of homes. Residents of flood-prone communities were advised to move to higher ground due to continuing rainfall in the mountains.

In Nan, Muang and Phu Phiang districts were hit by flash floods following heavy rain overnight. The water level in several streams rose rapidly, causing them to burst their banks.

In Pua district, several power poles toppled over when land subsided due to strong torrents of water. Residents in vulnerable areas were warned to brace for more potential floods and landslides.

In the eastern province of Chanthaburi, officials opened the sluice gates at Klong Pakdee Rampai to speed up efforts to drain excess water into the sea after water levels at the Chanthaburi River rose quickly.

Red flags were put up along popular beaches including Jao Lao and Laem Sadet in Tha Mai district warning tourists not to swim due to strong winds and high waves. Local and tourist police patrolled beach roads throughout the day.

Meanwhile, the Royal Irrigation Department (RID) reportedly sent a letter to the governors of several provinces in the Central Plains, informing them of the RID's immediate water management plans.

The RID will begin diverting water into water retention fields Wednesday, it said.


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