Nearly 1 million Thais swamped by relentless southern deluge
By News Desk
08 January 2017

BANGKOK (The Nation/ANN) - Heavy rains expected until today, alert called as crocodiles escape nakhon si thammarat zoo.

Flooding in lower Thailand has now expanded to leave 10 of the 15 southern provinces inundated, affecting nearly a million people and claiming 11 lives, according to the Interior Ministry’s Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department.

And eight provinces – Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chumphon, Surat Thani, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Phatthalung, Ranong and Phang Nga – face more heavy rain until today.

Relentless heavy downpours that triggered floods in the eight provinces – plus Narathiwat, Yala, Songkhla and Pattani earlier in the week – had affected a quarter of a million households or 744,422 people in 3,376 villages in 85 districts, Department chief Chatchai Phromlert said yesterday. 

Surat Thani reported three deaths while Songkhla, Narathiwat, Nakhon Si Thammarat and Phatthalung saw two deaths each. One person remains missing after being swept away by floods in Phatthalung, he said. 
Phatthalung, Chumphon and Trang reported rising floods, while other provinces said water was stable or starting to recede, he added.

Meanwhile, Education Minister Theerakiat Charoensetthasin said more than 1,400 schools in the South were affected and their properties damaged by floods. Classes were suspended as a precaution for student safety, he said. 

The Office of Vocational Education Commission dispatched technical college students and teachers to repair flood-damaged appliances, vehicles and agriculture tools – for free. 

Deputy Education Minister ML Panadda Diskul will preside over a meeting tomorrow of related educational agencies to find measures to aid flood-affected schools and students.

The severe flood also raised concerns over ancient sites in the region. Culture Minister Veera Rojpojanarat said he had ordered officials to survey flood damage at ancient sites in the South for restoration later.

Fourth Army Region chief Lt-General Piyawat Nakwanich made a helicopter survey yesterday of Songkhla to inspect the flood situation. Military aircraft delivered food to 100 marooned residents in Phatthalung’s Khuan Khanoon district and flood victims in Nakhon Si Thammarat’s Cha-uat and Noppitham districts. 

With water levels still high in many areas, soldiers would cook and deliver food as well as open army camps as temporary shelters, Piyawat said.

In Trang province six of seven districts were seriously hit. Na Yong, Rassada, Huay Yot, Kantang, Wang Wiset, Muang were all declared disaster zones. 

Trang Governor Siripat Pattanakul said that floods in the Na Yong, Muang and Rassada districts had eased but Huay Yot, Wang Wiset and areas near the Trang River Basin were still under up to a metre of water, making roads impassable. 

Dozens of people were marooned in their homes. And Trang is bracing for another deluge from Nakhon Si Thammarat in coming days, he said. 
More than 10,000 relief bags and drinking water were given away to affected residents and he will soon withdraw Bt50 million from state emergency funds to aid the victims.

Trang’s Muang district saw three flood barriers along the Trang River busted later yesterday in Tambon Nong Trud, Na Ta Luang and Bang Rak, which inflicting more misery on local communities, as the rain continued. Some 100 monks and novices at Wat Prasitthichai in Muang district moved their belongings to higher ground, as the Trang River rose. They also cooked their own meals as the floods prevented them from going out to receive alms.

In Nakhon Si Thammarat’s Muang district, a number of crocodiles escaped from display areas at the flood-hit Thung Tha Lat Zoo in Somdej Phra Srinagarindra 84 Park. Zoo workers were making efforts to capture them. They warned residents in the vicinity that some might have escaped.

Residents in Songkhla’s Ranote district suffered a second blow yester-day following runoff from Nakhon Si Thammarat and Phatthalung, which also caused Songkhla Lake to rise. This left the lakeside districts of Krasae Sin, Sathing Phra, and Singha Nakhon inundated.

In Surat Thani, eight districts were flood-affected while rains continued, although many areas saw floodwater recede and some low-lying areas were under 50cm to one metre of water. 

Tha Chana and Chaiya districts were being monitored for possible landslides and flash floods as heavy rain was expected until today.
Residents in Ban Na Tham and Ban Pak Hai in Tambon Tha Uthen in Kanchanadit district lamented that Thursday’s flash floods destroyed their bridge and toppled power poles. This forced the authorities to cut power as a precautionary measure. About 300 families have been living without electricity ever since. In Prachuap Khiri Khan, 150 fishing boats, cargo ships and other vessels docked at bays to evade up to four-metre-high waves that sank six fishing boats on Friday.

Meanwhile, Government Housing Bank president Chatchai Sirilai said the bank had arranged Bt500 million to assist southern flood victims from tomorrow. In the second measure, customers can borrow up to Bt1 million each under the special loan scheme to fix homes. For details, call 0-2645-9000 or visit www.ghbank.co.th.

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