Main highway linking Thailand’s North to capital submerged

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BANGKOK, Oct 7 – The government has set up an integrated operations centre at Don Mueang Airport as flooding in Ayutthaya closed a section of the Asian Highway in the province, Thailand’s main route to the North.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra convened a meeting at Don Mueang Airport at 10am Friday to tackle the flood threatening the capital, Bangkok, after flooding has largely shut down the central province of Ayutthaya, 76 kilometres north of Bangkok.

The government set up a new operations centre to respond to flooding nationwide, drawing agencies and experts from varied sectors to Bangkok’s Don Mueang for an integrated response to the crisis. The airport now mainly functioning for some domestic flights is now offering free parking for the public if their homes are at risk from flooding.

The three-storey parking building for domestic passengers and the five-storey cargo building can serve 3,000 vehicles, said acting president of the Airports of Thailand (AoT) Somchai Sawasdipol.

The floods forced a section of the Asian Highway in Ayutthaya to close yesterday and motorists to the North must use a detour to Bang Bua Thong in Nonthaburi and to Suphan Buri before returning to the Asian Highway in Chai Nat.

The flood situation in Ayutthaya worsened on Friday as more floodwater flowed through damaged dykes.

Minister of Science and Technology Plodprasop Suraswadi inspected Ayutthaya on Friday morning before meeting with the prime minister. He said he would advise the meeting that the military be deployed to help patrol flooded homes in Ayutthaya, so local residents can evacuate their homes. Many remained home as they are worried about their valuables and other belongings.

Local residents now need food to be distributed to their communities, he added.

Meanwhile, flooding hit the coastal tourist city of Pattaya on Friday after heavy rain triggered flooding on the inbound and outbound Sukhumvit Road near Pattaya.  Flood flowed into houses along the road and car owners had to park their vehicles on the higher roadside.

Local officials of the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department are expediting draining the flood water. Clogged sewers were blamed for flooding.