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Pattaya Daily News

05 November 2010 :: 15:11:57 pm 45423

Partial Relief for the South as Hat Yai Begins to Recover

As the floodwaters in Hat Yai begin to recede, Nakhon Si Thammarat is hit by mudslides and six of the other Southern provinces remain unchanged. The National Disaster Warning Centre has acknowledged that it was slow to react to the national disaster, which has so far cost 140 lives, 12 of these in the South, and caused Bt32.4-54.2 billion in damages in 50 provinces, according to the Kasikorn Research Centre.
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November 6 : Hat Yai is slowly recovering from its four-day nightmare, the water which reached over two-metres depth at its highest point is rapidly receding, thanks to the extremely efficient drainage system, as the big clean-up gets under way. The aftermath of the flood is one of enormous proportions, with over Bt10 billion’s worth of damage, in which 90% of the hotels and serviced apartments in Hat Yai and many commercial enterprises were affected, with tourism hit badly. Local residents said that those who suffered most ignored warnings. Phrai Phatthano, the Mayor of Songkhla, estimates it will over three days to restore the South’s largest city to normality.

The other provinces of Surat Thani, Chumporn, Trang, Pattani, Narathiwat and Nakhon Si Thammarat are still suffering, however. In Nakhon Si Thammarat, a 15-20 metre mudslides covering seven kilometres, demolished four houses and damaged nearly 50 homes. In the province’s Hua Sai district, a five-year-old boy drowned. Other mudslides from the Phlai Dam hill in Si Chol district caused havoc to 34 villages, blocked roads and forced the evacuation of villagers to safer ground. So far the flooding in Nakhon Si Thammarat Province has damaged 100 rai of farmland and rubber plantations, 30 roads and 30 bridges.

In Pattani’s Muang district, the 1.50-metre flood-water from the rising Pattani River has trapped many in their homes and forced those lucky enough to escape to flee. Also in Pattani, 10 bodies thought to be the crew of a fishing trawler washed up on a beach.In Trang, run-offs from the Ban Thad Mountains have flooded several tambons in Muang district.

The National Disaster Warning Centre is reportedly very concerned about the flooding in Surat Thani, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Chumphon, Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat and Songkhla because of continuing heavy rains and storms. Several sources have even recommended actually moving the region’s key city, Hat Yai, to a different, higher location, but Pramoj Maiklad, a former chief of the Irrigation Department, academics and politicians countered this suggestion, saying relocating Hat Yai City would be an expensive overreaction, as extensive flooding happens rarely and an effective disaster warning system and efficient drainage system would be just as effective. Mr. Pramoj also stressed that better and more timely warning systems for floods after heavy rainfall, especially for local administrative bodies, were also necessary and the populace needs to be educated in more effective disaster response.

The matter of disaster response is a very sensitive issue, currently. The National Disaster Warning Centre and kindred agencies have been strongly criticised for not doing enough to prepare or respond to disasters such as the current flooding. Disaster prevention authorities and academics have called for a major overhaul of the national disaster early warning system and improving the public’s response skills. NDWC boss, Somsak Khaosuwan, countered these criticisms by saying the agency “could have been more effective” with its warnings had it been given sufficient budget and manpower. He insisted the NDWC had done its best to inform people about the floods, but many had ignored its warnings.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva was among the critics who said that the authorities must improve the warning system and the method of disseminating the information. As regards compensation, Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij announced that the government was now working out a comprehensive rehabilitation plan to cover flood victims in all locations. Private sector companies are expected to provide funds to repair damaged properties, procurement, and donations for flood victims and producers will increase production and marketing activities to counteract the revenue shortfall because of the flooding.

On a positive note and one which will gladden the hearts of the residents of the beleaguered Southern provinces, the premier is now prepared to lift the Emergency Decree there. “The State of Emergency is likely to be revoked in many areas,” the prime minister stated.

Photo : Internet   Category : Thailand News

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