King gives funds for Pabuk damage
Winter fair proceeds going to help victims
Revenue from the royally initiated winter fair running under the banner "Un Ai Rak Khlai Khwam Nao" will be allocated to support efforts to restore the damage dealt by Tropical Storm Pabuk in southern Thailand from Friday to Sunday.
"His Majesty the King has told the government to use the revenue for the rehabilitation missions," Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha told storm and flood victims during his Monday visit to Pak Phanang, the hardest-hit district in Nakhon Si Thammarat.
The King earlier gave villagers survival kits and provisions from khrua phraratchathan, a royally bestowed kitchen, over the weekend.
Pabuk made landfall in Pak Phanang on Friday afternoon, forcing several thousand villagers in Nakhon Si Thammarat and neighbouring provinces to evacuate and damaging public utilities, houses, hospitals, schools and fruit plantations.
A number of uprooted trees and fallen electricity poles became a common motif in many areas in the aftermath of the storm.
The King's latest form of assistance comes as the government assesses the damage and determines the proper budget to help affected people, repair buildings and generally bring the storm-torn region back to normal.
The Un Ai Rak Khlai Khwam Nao (roughly, Love and Warmth at Winter's End) festival was initiated by His Majesty the King and is now running for the second time.
The fair, open to the public until Jan 19, has reportedly attracted hordes of tourists who prefer shops and shows organised under a traditional Thai theme.
"The King wants us to do our duty to help the people," Gen Prayut said.
Un Ai Rak Khlai Khwam Nao fair at the Royal Plaza began on Dec 9 and ends on Saturday.
A video from the YouTube channel 'Here I am' explains and then tours the fair, which ends on Jan 19. (Thai language with English subtitles)
So far seven people have been confirmed dead as a result of Pabuk. The latest victim, identified as 69-year-old Pricha Chankaeo, was a volunteer who drowned in a flood in Ban Pia Hua Noen in Pak Phanang district.
He was one of two volunteers who died during rescue missions. The other was Pharadon Ketchat, 35, who was killed when a tree fell on his house.
Besides the casualties and a number of damaged houses, hundreds of hospitals and schools bore the brunt, according to the latest estimates.
Education officials claim Pabuk caused 110 million baht in damages to 435 schools in the South.
Up to 29 hospitals under the Public Health Ministry also suffered "severe damage", mostly broken roofs and ceilings, as a result of strong winds, permanent secretary for public health Sukhum Kanchanaphimai said.
All but one in Talum Puk cape managed to remain open as their medical equipment was not affected, he said.
Ban Plaisai Hospital was forced to close as it was located in the storm's path but it will resume services today, Dr Sukhum said.
More flooding is feared from the Trang River, officials said.