Two teenagers drown in flood-hit Nakhon Si Thammarat

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NAKHON SI THAMMARAT, Jan 4 – Police believe that the bodies of two teenagers found in a canal in this provincial seat were swept away by this week’s flash flood and drowned.

Police said the bodies of two male teenagers identified as Kamin Suwanwigo and Chalermkiat Manin, both 15, were found in the Wang Rak irrigation canal in Chaimontri sub-district.

The initial investigation found that the two were riding a motorcycle along the canal, heading to the main road, Na Pru-Benjama, but were carried away by the sudden strong current.

Both young men and their motorcycle were dragged by the raging waters into the irrigation canal where they drowned.

Speaking to the media after today’s cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said she had instructed Interior Ministry, the Flood Relief Operations Centre (FROC), and the military to closely monitor the flood situation in the southern provinces and to promptly extend assistance.

The interior ministry would issue emergency funds to help the flood-hit provinces while FROC will care for the flood victims, with help from soldiers dispatched by the military to help flood victims, Ms Yingluck said.

She said the cabinet assigned appropriate agencies to ensure that the disaster warning system would work properly and effectively.

Defence Minister Gen Yuthasak Sasiprapa said the military deployed its personnel to help the flood victims in the South since Monday. Military engineer units would be sent to repair damaged roads and clear areas affected by mudslides.

He pledged that the government would do its best to help the flood victims.

Army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha said he assigned Fourth Army Region commander Lt-Gen Udomchai Thammasarorat to set up a disaster prevention centre at the Fourth Army Region headquarters and to dispatch military personnel to the flooded areas.

He said some 10,000 troops were at work in the areas and Gen Udomchai gave assurance that the situation was under control.

Gen Prayuth said the Army Engineers Department, the Army Disaster Relief Centre and the army engineer units from the First, Second and Third Army Regions headquarters stand ready to provide heavy equipment and personnel to support rescue operations if the Fourth Army Region headquarters asks for help.

The army chief said he instructed his subordinates to give priority to the most affected areas particularly the transportation of the residents, reduce danger from flash flood, in particular from Khao Luang Mountain in Nakhon Si Thammarat and Surat Thani.

The situation is worrisome as rain kept falling over the mountain and it mountain could absorb only limited amount of water, which could eventually cause mudslides, he warned.

Gen Prayuth said the agencies concerned including Royal Thai Navy and Marine Police were coordinating to help rescue residents and tourists stranded on some islands.