PM speeds up combined relief effort for flooded provinces

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BANGKOK, Oct 10 — Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Monday chaired a meeting at the government’s Flood Relief Operations Centre at Don Mueang airport to help flood-victims in many provinces before boarding a helicopter to inspect hardest-hit Ayutthaya where the floodwaters raged into parts of major industrial estate.

Two people were reportedly electrocuted to death near the Rojana Industrial Park Sunday night.

Meanwhile, Ang Thong Hospital began transferring 20 patients in critical care to other hospitals after flooding threatened the hospital. The loss of power might also cause problems for patients needing respirators.

Ang Thong Hospital director Narong Apikulwanit said although flooding has yet to reach the hospital, the surrounding areas have been submerged, where hospitals were forced to evacuate patients needing critical care. The Emergency Medical Service sent one helicopter to select a landing zone for patient transport in case of emergency.

The premier addressed the nation Sunday night on all television networks, urging the public not to panic but to closely follow news and warnings from agencies concerned.

Prime Minister Yingluck said the Royal Irrigation Department reported that rainfall in the northern and upper central regions was declining, and it was expected that the water level in Chao Phraya River would rise slightly and projected the highest Chao Phraya River water flow in Nakhon Sawan Oct 12-13 at 4,800-4,900 cubic metres per second, a rate maintained for one week before gradually receding.

The water level in the Chao Phraya will rise on average 20 centimetres in all areas, she said, urging concerned agencies to closely follow through with their response to the flood and maintain strong flood prevention dykes to handle the increased water volume.

Areas under close watch are the left bank of the Chao Phraya River from Ayutthaya’s Uthai, Bang Pa-in, and Wang Noi districts.

As for the flood response in Bangkok, she reported that 188 water pump stations and 214 water sluice gates on the west side of the capital while the southeastern side of Bangkok, near Suvarnabhumi Airport, if the water increased, the five canals would be used to drain water into the sea.

Eight pumping stations in southern Bangkok are located to push water into the sea.

Ms Yingluck said Bangkok residents living outside the flood prevention dykes and along Chao Phraya River were considered an at risk group, and are urged to prepared for evacuation with necessities in the event of too high water levels, moving to higher ground and safe areas.

The premier ordered the authorities to make every effort to protect the economic zones of Ayutthaya, Pathum Thani and Nonthaburi.

Ms Yingluck has assigned the industry minister to mobilise cooperation from agencies concerned to help protect the Rojana Industrial Park and other industrial zones as it could cause severe impact to the country’s economy if they were damaged by the flood.

The premier said she received reported that Phase 1 of the Rojana Industrial Park has been flooded and was being salvaged by agencies concerned, but the Phases 2 and 3 have no flood problem.

She said the army is the main agency to handle flooding in Ayutthaya, Lop Buri and Nakhon Sawan, while seven other at risk provinces would be handled by provincial governors, police and the National Police Bureau.