Residents in 8 southern provinces warned of flash floods, landslides

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BANGKOK, Jan 5 – Residents in eight southern Thai provinces are warned of forest runoff and possible flash floods and landslides triggered by continued heavy rains in the next few days, the director-general of the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation said Thursday as the region is embracing the new round of flooding.

Wiboon Sanguanpong said the Thai Metereological Department warning named Surat Thani, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Phatthalung, Songkhla, Yala, Pattani, Satun and Narathiwat provinces.

Residents living along the foothills and lowlands near the sea are advised to be prepared for heavy rains, strong wind and waves from today through Tuesday.

The disaster agency chief urged the public to pay attention to weather news and unusual weather conditions so they could evacuate to safer areas in time.

Fishermen should also stay ashore during this period, Mr Wiboon said.

The disaster response agency has coordinated with eight provinces and local disaster prevention and mitigation offices be on alert and monitor the stability of all dams and flood prevention dykes.

Meanwhile, 316 schools in 11 school districts –primary schools in nine districts and secondary in two districts– were affected by the southern flood, according to Office of the Basic Education Commission Secretary-General Chinnapat Poomirat.

Nakhon Si Thammarat province is most affected with 120 schools now flooded, followed by 67 schools in Pattani and 60 in Songkhla.

Ninety-nine schools are temporarily closed. Overall damage is estimated at Bt23 million, but floodwaters have eased quickly in most areas. All schools are expected to reopen on Monday.

Mr Chinnapat said his agency is allocating an initial budget of Bt1.1 million to provide assistance to 11 affected school districts to help meet their school reopening expenses.