Tropical Storm Noul gathers pace, agencies go on high alert

Tropical Storm Noul gathers pace, agencies go on high alert

A disaster mitigation plan has been drawn up with agencies on high alert for fast-approaching Tropical Storm Noul which is gathering strength and could hit the country tomorrow until Sunday, the Agriculture Ministry says.

Agriculture Minister Chalermchai Sri-on said on Wednesday he has instructed the Royal Irrigation Department (RID) to prepare for an emergency from the ravages of Noul.

The storm strengthened from a tropical depression into a tropical storm on Tuesday. It could also intensify into a typhoon, the Meteorological Department said.

The department has also warned people about flash floods triggered by water runoff and winds which could topple trees and power lines.

As the storm tracked to the west, it has triggered flooding and strong wind alerts in many parts of Southeast Asia. Noul is predicted to make its way westward across the South China Sea throughout the rest of the week.

Vietnam is reportedly considering the evacuation of half a million residents in the country's central coast region ahead of Noul's expected landfall today.

On Wednesday, Mr Chalermchai said heavy rains are expected to lash many areas in the North, Northeast and the East on Saturday.

The RID will be managing water inside and outside of irrigated zones in provinces lying in the storm's path.

Areas prone to flooding will be mapped out with officials appointed to oversee the management and analysis of water situations in each area.

Officials will also coordinate with local agencies to help residents.

Mr Chalermchai said water storage in dams and reservoirs was also being closely monitored although he was given an assurance by the RID that "there is enough water reserved for consumption, farming and maintaining the ecology". However, more rainwater was needed to replenish some of the dams and reservoirs. This will ensure a sufficient supply of water for next year's dry season.

The agriculture minister said several dams and reservoirs will be enlarged to increase their storage capacity.

"This will be faster than building new water retaining sources with less impact on people's livelihoods and the environment," Mr Chalermchai said.

RID director-general Thongplew Kongchan said heavy machinery such as excavators and water pumps were being mobilised in areas most vulnerable to floods.

Officials were given orders to run regular checks on the strength of the dams, reservoirs and water gates.

Debris and garbage will be removed from waterways to prevent them obstructing water flow during drainage in the event of flooding.

The Central Plains provinces are expected to bear the brunt of the storm.

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