PM orders urgent raising height of riverside dykes in Ayutthaya


AYUTTHAYA, Oct 6 — Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra ordered raising the elevation of Ayutthaya flood prevention dyke to two metres out of concern that in the absence of decisive action more floodwaters will enter the provincial industrial estates.

The order followed her trip by helicopter to Ayutthaya Thursday afternoon for an aerial surveillance of the extent and seriousness of the flood, which is submerging homes, roads, prisons, hospitals, historic sites and industrial estates alike.

The prime minister and her team boarded a helicopter to inspect flooding in Ayutthaya before visiting flooded local communities in the provincial seat and two industrial estates. Villagers requested temporary shelters as there was a warning of flood to remain high and they cannot go back to stay in their homes.

She instructed concerned agencies to urgently salvage the Saharattana Nakhon industrial estate, critically submerged under three metres of water, to prevent further severe damage to machinery.

Inbound and outbound traffic to the provincial seat has been congested all day as flooding on Rojana Road is increasing

Many dykes around Ayutthaya holding back floodwaters from the riverside communities collapsed Thursday and waters of the Chao Phraya River flowed into homes.

Ms Yingluck earlier chaired a meeting with agencies concerned to update them on the flood situation nationwide, at which Royal Irrigation Department Director-General Chalit Damrongsak told the premier that the water volume this year was much higher than the major flood in 2005, so it has affected the people in wider areas.

To respond to flood problems on the east bank of Chao Phraya River, 216 permanent pumps have been installed and additional water pumps will be added soon to pump water to the sea as quickly as possible.

Meanwhile, on the west bank of Chao Phraya River, the agencies dealing with the crisis will speed up their attempt to drain water into the canal network and the Tha Chin River.

Ms Yingluck has expressed her worry over the new storms forecast to enter Thailand and order the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation to coordinate with provincial governors to reinforce the flood prevention dykes and prepare evacuation plans.

She instructed Minister of Industry Wannarat Channukul to address flood at factories in Ayutthaya.

The Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation’s Emergency Response Centre spokesman Pipatchai Paiboon said the water discharged from the nearly full capacity Bhumibol Dam in Tak province would flood Nakhon Sawan in the next seven days.

He said that the water was rising in the Bhumibol Dam, reaching 97 per cent of its capacity, so that the dam must release 100 million cubic metres everyday.

The large amount of water would eventually flood Tak in two days and reach Nakhon Sawan in seven days which would severely affect the residents in Nakhon Sawan, Chai Nat, Sing Buri, Lop Buri and Ayutthaya.

As for flooding in Ayutthaya, Mr Pipatchai said the authorities were evaluating the situation and assessing the damage at the industrial estates. Meanwhile, Deputy Transport Minister Kittisak Hatthasongkroh on Thursday inspected a sluice gate of Klong Lad Pho, a shortcut canal in Samut Prakan, part of the royal initiative project for Bangkok’s flood prevention.

Klong Lad Pho helps drain water from the Chao Phraya River to the sea at about 500 cubic metres per second.

He said the ministry assigned the Marine Department to work with the Royal Thai Navy and the private sector to use big vessels to speed the drainage of water into the sea more quickly in line with the government’s policy before the high tide period in mid-October.

Regarding flood impacts on transportation, Deputy Transport Minister Pol Lt-Gen Chat Kuldilok said after inspecting flooded railway tracks in Nakhon Sawan that the State Railway of Thailand must suspend a number of northbound trains due to flooding.

From Aug 1-3 and Sept 26-Oct 5, flooding forced the SRT to cancel 339 train runs, causing revenue losses of Bt46.2 million. Railway workers are prepared to repair railway tracks when flood recedes.

Flood also caused suspension of many bus services to the North. However, Transport Company Director Wutthichart Kanlayanamitr said that the state-owned firm adjusted its northbound route management plan to avoid flood-hit provinces. As a result, most bus services to the northern region can be operated normally.

Mr Wutthichart explained that the company is assessing the flood-related cost of damages.