Flood crisis worsens in downstream central provinces

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AYUTTHAYA, Oct 6 – Thailand’s old capital of Ayutthaya has been hardest hit by flooding as the mass of water from three  rivers will arrive in the province in the next three to seven days when flooding is likely to be worsen, according to Governor Witthaya Piewpong.

Roads leading to a central landmark for the province, a historic chedi in a roundabout, are under water.

The governor said flooding in Ayutthaya is likely to increase by about half a metre in the next three to seven days as the water mass from the Lopburi, Pasak and Chao Phraya rivers arrive in Ayutthaya.

To brace for worsened flooding, the governor ordered elevation and reinforcement of dykes to reach one metre from the current height at 50 centimetres and repair of damaged dykes, of which about 60 per cent have been breached by flood water.

Local residents have been warned to move their belongings to higher ground and be ready to evacuate when the authorities issue warnings.

Prison authorities on Thursday morning are evacuating inmates at a flooded prison to Bangkok while Bangpahan Hospital has been forced to close temporarily. Flooding at the hospital entrance is about 1.5 metres deep, forcing the facility to evacuate all 16 in-patients by boat Wednesday night. The patients were transferred to other hospitals.

In the upstream province of Tak, the Ping River covers two sub-districts and about 100 households have evacuated. The governor ordered provincial officials to be fully vigilant.

The Ping River continues rising after the Bhumibol Dam in Tak released excess water from the nearly full dam.

In Nakhon Sawan, the Ping River overflowed, invading homes with water as deep as one metre. Local authorities are reinforcing earthen dykes, and residents moved their belongings to higher ground.

In Kamphaeng Phet, the authorities are reinforcing sandbag embankments and earthen dykes as the water level in the Ping River released from the Bhumibol dam will arrive around noon on Thursday.

In the capital of Bangkok, overnight heavy rain triggered flooding on inbound Vibhavadi Road from Don Mueang to Kasetsart University as at least one pump is out of order. Some 60-80 centimetres of water on the road damaged about 100 cars, pickup trucks and motorcycles, and the road became impassable for small vehicles.

On Thursday morning, 126 milimetres of rain overnight resulted in a four kilometre Vibhavadi Road traffic jam, as a critical pump for the Bangkhen canal is out of order and cannot drain water from the road into the canal.

Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra and the director of the Department of Drainage and Sewerage inspected the situation this morning, saying a new pump is being installed.

The Meteorological Department warns of scattered to fairly widespread rain and isolated heavy rain in the Central, the lower Northeast, the East and the South west-coast regions. The public should beware of severe heavy rain during the next one or two days.

Strong winds and waves in the Andaman Sea are expected to reach 2-3 meters high. All ships should proceed with caution and small boats keep ashore.