PM: Many provinces may be under water for two months

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BANGKOK, Oct 12 — Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said on Wednesday that the floods which hit many provinces in north, northeastern and central regions are likely to last for two months so that the residents should adjust their life to cope with the situation.

Speaking with governors of 14 flooded provinces in the central region via videoconference at the government’s Flood Relief Operations Centre at Don Mueang Airport, the premier conceded that many provinces will be submerged for the next two months and the public must accept it as being something inevitable.

Ms Yingluck said the flooding in Nakhon Sawan and Ayutthaya were critical and both provinces have been declared disaster zones. Therefore, she said, it was unnecessary to impose an emergency decree to handle the flood situation.

At Nakhon Sawan, the premier ordered involved state agencies to move the flood victims to taller buildings where there are helicopter landing pads and use helicopters to pick them up.

Around 20,000 people in 17 communities living in flood-hit area in Nakhon Sawan must be evacuated, she said, adding that 20 flat-bottom boats donated by China will be used to help the evacuation mission in the province.

Minister of Justice Pol Gen Pracha Promnog said Sing Buri, Chait Nat, Ang Thong, and Ayutthaya will face more severe flooding. He said their governors should alert the public and prepare evacuation plans.

Pathum Thani Governor Peerasak Hinmuangkao urged the government to impose an emergency decree in some districts as huge volumes of floodwater continued to flood the province, with some residents obstructing building the flood-prevention dykes for fear that they could cause deeper flooding of their homes.

Mr Peerasak told Ms Yingluck he has lost much of his spirit to tackle flood as the flow of floodwater continues to ravage the province.

Meanwhile, Nakhon Sawan Governor Chairote Meedaeng said the province is in dire straits and provincial authorities are accelerating assistance to victims as the heart of the province was under 1.50 metres of water.

Flood Relief Operations Centre spokesman Wim Rungwattanachinda said the Royal Thai Air Force dispatched five helicopters equipped with infrared device to scan and search for flood victims stranded in Ayutthaya’s remote areas.

Police will also be deployed to take care of the flood victims’ properties.

He said the authorities would speed up a plan to divert water from four canals in western Bangkok — Klong Phra Pimon, Klong Lad Bho, Klong Maha Sawat and Klong Phasi Charoen — into the sea, so that the floodwaters would impact the residents’ homes for a few days and would not last long.

Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Yongyuth Wichaidit said that government agencies have prepared evacuation plans but in actual practice did not run smoothly as many flood victims refused to leave their homes.

He said the authorities were unable to force stranded residents in Ayutthaya and Nakhon Sawan to leave their home if they were unwilling.