8 southern provinces on high alert for storm Washi


BANGKOK, Dec 20 – Thai Minister of Public Health Witthaya Buranasiri on Tuesday said that health officials in eight southern provinces are under orders to be on high alert as tropical storm Washi, which killed over one thousand persons in the Philippines, approaches.

The health minister said that Washi is expected to make landfall in Malaysia tomorrow and Thursday (Dec 22) and that the lower South of Thailand, including Nakhon Si Thammarat, Phatthalung, Songkhla, Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat, Trang and Satun are at risk of flash flood due to heavy rains.

Mr Witthaya said the ministry has instructed health offices in the eight provinces to be prepared to respond to the higher numbers of the patients from flood hit areas, stock medical supplies, provide mobile medical units as well as prevent possible flood at the hospitals.

The minister said that the Emergency Medical Institute of Thailand was ordered to have 2,000 teams of emergency medical workers on standby around the clock and 500 boats and helicopters have been prepared for the immediate evacuation of the patients.

Dr Sophon Mekthon, deputy permanent-secretary for Health, said health offices in eight provinces have set up a centre to monitor the situation and that every hospital as prepared to adjust their services in accordance with flood situation.

He noted that four hospitals are likely to be hit by flood, three in Songkhla and one in Narathiwat.

The Department of Meteorological earlier reported tropical depression “Washi” in the lower South China Sea was downgraded to a low cell status and will move across Malaysia on Wednesday.

This will cause more rain and isolated heavy rain is expected in southern Thailand from Nakhon Si Thammarat southward.

French news agency Agence-France-Presse (AFP) reported Tuesday that the Philippines’ National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said tropical storm Washi had left 957 dead and 49 missing in its wake after lashing the southern island of Mindanao over the weekend, triggering flash floods and landslides in the middle of the night.

Disaster council chief Benito Ramos had told AFP that the death toll was rising as the bodies of people who were washed out to sea were floating to the surface.