CHIANG MAI: Flooding expanded in the heart of Chiang Mai as the overflowing Ping River continued to rise amid persistent rain on Monday.
The water level of the Ping River continued to rise on Monday afternoon, threatening to exacerbate the flooding that has already inundated downtown Chiang Mai.
The provincial disaster prevention and mitigation office in Chiang Mai said the level at Nawarat Bridge at 4pm was 4.65 metres, 0.95 metres above its safe level and higher than the 4.52 metres measured on Monday morning.
"The water level continues to rise," the office said.
Several areas in Muang district have been submerged since the Ping bust its banks, and rain continued to hammer the city on Monday. The worst flooding was in tambon Pa-dad in Muang district, according to the municipality office. Charoen Prathet road, the night bazaar, Chang Klan road and the road to Lamphun were also underwater.
The flooding around Chiang Mai railway station sparked safety concerns about the tracks, and officials decided to transfer passengers booked on two special express trains to Bangkok by bus to board trains at stations south of the city.
Charan Yiemwej, a weather forecaster on duty at the Meteorological Department in Bangkok, said heavy rain in Chiang Mai and other provinces bordering Myanmar, as well as the lower part of the northern region, would continue until Tuesday.
After a break of several hours, heavy rain briefly resumed in Chiang Mai at 7pm on Monday before abating.
Flashbacks to 2011
Earlier, about 1,000 households in Muang district were inundated after the Ping burst its banks on Sunday night. The flood continued on Monday morning, with local residents advised to move their belongings to higher ground.
Although sandbags were stacked up along the banks of the Ping River, water sprang up from sewers in the municipal area of Muang district.
The situation was approaching the severe flooding of 2011, when the level of the river neared 5 metres. Local officials feared a similar situation as water from tributaries upstream continued to flow into the Ping.
The river receives water from the Mae Taeng River and the Mae Rim River.
The water was up to a metre deep in some areas of Muang district and residents were evacuated. Several schools and government offices were closed on Monday due to flooding. They were largely on Chang Khlan and Charoen Prathet roads, but also in Pa Phrao Nok and Nong Hoi areas.
Elsewhere in the province, steady rain continued in Chiang Dao, Mae Taeng, Mae Rim, Mae Ai, Fang, San Sai and Doi Saket districts - all upstream of Muang district.