Hail pummels 2,000 homes in Northeast

Hail pummels 2,000 homes in Northeast

Udon Thani: Powerful hail storms have damaged more than 2,000 houses in two northeastern provinces of Udon Thani and Nong Khai, wreaking widespread havoc and forcing officials to set up a disaster response centre at a heavily riddled pavilion.

Local officials from the two provinces yesterday inspected the damage to the people's houses, and residents whose houses were completely destroyed by the hail storms will be taken to stay at shelters.

A makeshift centre was built at a sala, a local central pavilion in Ban Nong Lak in Udon Thani's Muang district. Throughout the day, residents seeking help contacted officials at the centre, the roof of which was riddled with holes caused by what people called "giant" ice balls pummeling the area on Monday night.

"All house roofs were damaged here," deputy Udon Thani governor Pramot Thannyaphuet said yesterday after making an initial survey in Ban Nong Lak, the hardest-hit village in tambon Nikhom Songkhlo.

Two people sustained minor injuries, officials said yesterday. The hail storm hit the village around 10pm on Monday night, surprising villagers with the loud noise as hail slammed into their roofs, they added.

"They were as big as lemons," Ban Nong Lak resident Monruedi Phasing said of the hail.

The storm only lasted 10 minutes but damaged houses, a temple, a school, bus stops, rice storehouses and large trees. Posters of election candidates and billboards were also wrecked. After the hail, rain poured into the damaged homes of residents who were also subjected to a blackout.

"Nobody dared to go out. Mobile phones were turned off to avoid attracting lightning," Ms Monruedi said, adding that that was the reason why there were no photos or video clips to share what happened. Ban Nong Lak is among many villages within three districts of Udon Thani which bore the brunt of the storms. Other affected villages are in Phen and Kumphawapi.

"Our [disaster response] centre is working at full capacity to help villagers," Mr Pramot said. Parts of Nong Khai also encountered similar damage on Monday night.

An initial survey found that over 1,000 houses were affected, Warangkhana Sinlapakit, of Nong Khai's disaster prevention and mitigation office, said yesterday. Nearly all of them were in Muang district, she added.

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