Thai Navy, state agencies, on full alert for flooding

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BANGKOK, Sept 24 – The Royal Thai Navy was ordered on 24-hour vigilance for flood response as Thailand braces for a new round of heavy downpours from a typhoon this week.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra admitted concern yesterday about the flooding but gave assurances that the large-scale disaster of 2011 would not be repeated.

The Central region including Bangkok was heavily flooded two years ago, disrupting business and suspending manufacturing operations at many industrial estates in Bangkok’s suburbs and nearby provinces.

Damaged levees and dykes have been repaired and at-risk areas in the 2011 flooding have been fixed, said Ms Yingluck.

She said all flood-prevention agencies including the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) would follow the anti-flood measures mapped out by the Water and Flood Management Commission.

Interior Minister Charupong Ruangsuwan yesterday chaired an urgent meeting to discuss flood prevention and response plans for Bangkok and the outskirts.

Royol Chitradon, Hydro and Agro Informatics Institute director, said after the meeting that 114 districts in 21 provinces have been hit by floods, and that this year’s volume of water is higher than last year but less than in 2011.

He warned that the coming typhoon across the Central region would cause more rainfall in the Central plains, Bangkok and nearby provinces and the Eastern region from tomorrow to Sunday.

Khun Darn Prakarn Chon Dam in Nakhon Nayok province is risking overflowing as the dam is currently 92 per cent full and can take only 17 million cubic metres of water while Lam Nang Rong dam is 81 per cent full.

Another round of heavy downpour may spill over Lam Nang Rong dam towards the northeastern province of Buriram, he said.

“Water in the two dams rises one centimetre higher every day and it must be released at 200 cubic metres/second. With this, water in the Chao Phraya River could be 20cm higher at Singh Buri and 30-40cm higher at Ayutthaya,” he said.

Interior Minister Charupong ordered all provincial governors to set up special centres to brace for flooding and disaster, and cooperate with related agencies in coping with inundation.

BMA deputy governor Chumpol Sampaopol said the water level in Bangkok was normal but many roads were subsiding, making it more difficult to release water into canals.

Water pumps have been installed in flood-prone areas especially at Klong Prem Prachakorn – the most difficult area for water release, he said.

Water on both sides of the Chao Phraya River is currently 1.62 metres high and residents will be advised to be on alert and move their belongings to higher ground if the level reaches 1.7 metres, he added.