Pattaya Daily News

03 November 2010 :: 14:11:24 pm 45327

Beleaguered Thailand Struggles On As Flooding Worsens

It is now the Southern provinces turn to be afflicted by flooding, hit by a deep depression, causing 1000s to flee to sanctuary in neighbouring Malaysia and some local rail and air services to be suspended as a quarter of the country remains under water, with 7.5 million affected in 38 provinces in the worst flooding to hit Thailand in decades.
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November 3, [Pattaya Daily News]: Deaths in Southern Thailand have now reached 38, to add to the 104 recent fatalities in the North, Northeast and the Central provinces in late October as Thailand struggles to cope with what Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva described as “one of the worst natural calamities” the country has ever witnessed.

The North, Northeast and the Central provinces are still valiantly battling in the wake of the two-week long rain that has inundated 25% of the nation. At least a dozen provinces are currently submerged under over 3 feet/1 metre of water and 10 highways have suffered extensive damage, with over 6 million affected, according to the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department. Following Sunday’s suspension of rail services to the North and Northeast, a limited service resumed on Monday.

The premier attributed the October flooding to heavy rains that poured huge amounts of water into dams and reservoirs. This was further exacerbated by what Mr. Abhisit called ‘aggressive housing and business development that has affected natural drainage channels’, to which must be added the severe depletion of the rain-forests.

Bangkok remains on high flood alert as the Northern runoffs  swell the Chao Phraya River, coinciding with high tides at the river’s estuary to the south, while in Ayutthaya Province, 92 endangered  elephants, threatened by rising flood waters, have been evacuated from Elephant Village, a popular tourist attraction. Manager Ittiporn Kaolamai said that five baby elephants and their mothers would be led to an elevated part of the village, but the remainder would be marched 1.8 miles/3 kms away to a drier location.

Meanwhile, 1.5 million inhabitants of the Southern provinces are having to cope with the aftermath of two days of torrential downpours brought on by a severe tropical depression, which has caused extensive flooding. Mayor Prai Pattano of the hardest-hit Hat Yai district of Songkhla Province said at least 100,000 people were affected there and that the water was almost 5 feet high. He also stated that the flooding has resulted in mass evacuations to neighbouring Malaysia. Rail services have been suspended on eight Southern routes since Nov2 because of flooded tracks in the Songkhla area. The Koh Samui Airport has also been temporarily closed due to the flooding.

The new flooding in the South is also causing headaches for the relief organisers, having to decide either to evacuate endangered  individuals or to assist them in situ. An Islamic boarding school in Hat Yai, for instance, had to close after being only open one day into the new term. 450 students and 50 staff members had to be taken by two motorboats from the school to military trucks a kilometre away.

“At first we thought it would be easier for the more than 400 students to stay in their dormitories and get help from the outside world instead of moving out, but we were wrong. It has proven to be very difficult getting access from anywhere else as the water level hasn’t really gone down,” Principal Yusuf Nima told press.

As a humanitarian gesture, HTMS Chakri Naruebet , flagship of the Thai Navy, was sent south today, Nov3, to assist in relief efforts, using its helicopters to transport supplies and also serve as a food depot and floating hospital. Should the situation in the South worsen, other nations will no doubt begin to render assistance, as they did in Burma not so long ago and after the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami.

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : Thailand News

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