Major flood to hit Ubon municipality on Friday

Major flood to hit Ubon municipality on Friday

#saveubon tops Thai hashtag

A truck edges its way along a flooded road in Warin Chamrap district of Ubon Ratchathani on Thursday. (Photo from @imamcoffee Twitter account and Pumin Rescue Unit)
A truck edges its way along a flooded road in Warin Chamrap district of Ubon Ratchathani on Thursday. (Photo from @imamcoffee Twitter account and Pumin Rescue Unit)

Muang district of Ubon Ratchathani province faces major flooding on Friday as a massive quantity of water moving down the swollen Moon River reaches the municipality.

Warin Chamrap district, the next door neighbour divided from Muang district by the river, will also be hit by the overflowing river.

Ubon Ratchathani is one of five northeastern provinces battered by flooding caused by two recently departed storms, Podul and Kajiki, the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department reported on Thursday.

But as the flooding drains off in the other provinces, Ubon Ratchathani province is on the receiving end, as it lies downstream on both the Moon River and its tributary the Chi River. The Moon flows along the edge of the municipality, separating it from adjoining Warim Chamrap district. The Chi avoids the town.

The Provincial Irrigation Office on Thursday warned that a massive surge of water moving down the Moon River will reach the municipality by Friday. It is forecast to flood both Muang and Warin Chamrap districts through the weekend. Then the water level is expected to drop as the flood front flows into the Mekong River.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha visited flood-hit areas in the province on Monday, and on Thursday  warned Ubon Ratchathani residents by Twitter message of the approaching wall of water. 

Muang and Warin Chamrap are already flooded and the arrival of the surge will exacerbate the plight of the people there, officials said. The last major flooding in Ubon Ratchathani was in 2002.

The situation in flooded Muang district, Ubon Ratchathani, on Thursday. (Video by Nila Singkiree)

"This year, the flood has caught us off guard. It came very fast, without warning," Muang district resident Premruethai Pongthitirat said.

"The municipality alerted us only when the water had already reached the top stair of my house," she added.

Sunpasithiprasong Hospital in Muang district is preparing for the inundation, stocking up on blood and medicines for patients. It has checked all utility and hospital service systems and moved medicines and medical equipment in the basement to higher ground.

Workers are busy reinforcing sandbag walls to defend the compound from the rising water.

"We have contingency plans in case the hospital is flooded, although the hospital is one metre higher than   the road," Dr Monchai Wiwattana Sitthipong, the hospital director, said.

Sunpasithiprasong Hopital is the receiving centre for patients transferred from all state hospitals in five provinces comprising the lower northeastern region. It currently has 250 seriously ill patients and 1,200 in-patients.

People across the country have been tweeting friends and compatriots in Ubon Ratchathani with messages of support, with the situation being updated on the #saveubon hashtag  - which trended to top viewing on Thursday.

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