PM promises B2bn help for flood victims

PM promises B2bn help for flood victims

Says that relief will not be 'siphoned off'

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has assured flood victims of a multi-billion-baht financial assistance package and warned officials against attempts to siphon it off.

"The government is allocating 2.09 billion baht to affected families," Gen Prayut said yesterday during the "Government Weekly" broadcast on the Thai Khu Fa Facebook page.

The pledge was made as the premier led an entourage to Ubon Ratchathani's Muang district to inspect how officials are helping people recover from severe flooding, which also hit nearby Warin Chamrap district.

"Residents must exercise their rights to the handouts," he said, adding the government will do its best to channel all the money, including donations, to people in need.

Also yesterday, the Council of Engineers Thailand led 175 engineer volunteers to inspect houses damaged by the month-long heavy rain in Muang and Warin Chamrap.

Their goal is to ensure that buildings are safe to live in as, according to council president Suchatvee Suwansawat, accidents often occur in the aftermath of floods when evacuees return to their homes.

"We've found many structures badly need repair and reconstruction," Mr Suchatvee said yesterday, pointing to subsiding school and house buildings and severely damaged bridges.

His team yesterday surveyed six communities and handed out guide books on how to check for damage.

Mr Suchatvee said there are up to 14,000 households that need help, including technical support. The group managed to inspect 1,600 houses on Thursday.

The Council of Engineers Thailand decided to join the government's flood rehabilitation efforts once water levels in the Moon River receded.

The river runs through Muang and merges with the Chi River in Warin Chamrap before it flows into the Mekong River, which borders Thailand and Laos.

Ubon Ratchathani is among 24 provinces in the North and Northeast hit by floods triggered by two storms -- Podul and Kajiki -- between late September and early October.

Muang and Warin Chamrap also encountered powerful run-off from other provinces.

The Council of Engineers Thailand has recommended long-term flood-prevention measures for Ubon Ratchathani.

The province needs better equipment to measure water levels "in real time", Mr Suchatvee said.

"The riverbank must be made higher than four metres, or equal a two-storey building, so it can contain more run-off," he said.

Also, an underground tunnel should be built to link the Moon River with a kaem ling, or a water-retention area, Mr Suchatvee added.

"We'll discuss these plans with the prime minister," he said.


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