Sukhothai hard hit by floods

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SUKHOTHAI, Aug 26 – The flood situation in Sukhothai remains critical in some areas with floodwaters as deep as two metres and some villagers have been cut off from the outside world for more than two months.

About 80 households in the provincial seat must travel in the town by flat-bottomed boats. Farmlands have been damaged by extensive flood and the water level is likely to continue rising.

The private sector initially helped distribute consumer goods to relieve grievances by flood victims.

Meanwhile, Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said before his trip to Sukhothai to inspect flood problems on Friday that flooding is long-standing problem in Sukhothai. As the new government has taken office, there will be clarification on compensation to be given.

Mr Abhisit said the latest assistance was increased by 2,000 baht but it is still unclear about help for flood damaged homes. He called for the government to rehabilitate flood victims.

In the northeastern province of Kalasin, officials opened the Lampao dam to release more water, causing the water level in the Lampao River to reach the critical point.

More than 5,000 rais of crops in three districts were damaged.  Kalasin Governor Wirote Jirarangsan warned villagers to beware of possible flash floods as the water level in the Chee River has continued to increase.

In the northern province of Chiang Rai, heavy rain triggered flooding in a business area in the provincial seat. Chiang Rai municipality closed vehicular traffic, and local residents placed sand bags in front of their homes.

In Phisanulok, the water level in the Nan River has risen after being filled to overflowing by diversions from three dams, posing a flood threat in low-lying areas in the provincial seat.

One-metre-high and ten-kilometre long sand embankment was built and local authorities pumped flood water from sewers. Local residents moved their belongings to higher ground.

Fiscal Policy Office Director Naris Chaiyasoot said in his capacity as finance ministry spokesman that emergency measures have been issued to help disaster victims.

Financial assistance will be offered through eight state banks and financial institutions including the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Co-operatives, Government Saving Bank, Government Housing Bank, Small and Medium Enterprise Development Bank of Thailand,Islamic Bank of Thailand, Export-Import Bank of Thailand, Small Business Credit Guarantee Corporation, Secondary Mortgage Corporation and the Krung Thai Bank.

Bank customers will be offered moratoriums and interest rate cuts. Soft loans will be given to customers and the public for occupational rehabilitation and house repair and loan criteria will be relaxed. The government’s assistance measures also provided tax relief for flood victims.