Flash floods continue to batter farmlands

Heavy downpours due to a low pressure trough and the south-western monsoon in the past week have triggered more flash floods and inundated villages and farmland in north and northeast Thailand.

So far 11 provinces in the north, northeast and central plain have been declared disaster zones after flooding damaged rice paddies, roads and schools.

According to disaster officials, five people have been killed, 114,345 (34,182 families) have been affected, 332 houses damaged and four totally destroyed and about 100,000 rais (40,470 acres) of agricultural land flooded; 147 roads, 16 bridges, four schools and 10 government offices have been damaged.

Lopburi and Phitsanulok are among the worst affected provinces. Strong torrents from mountain run-offs put roads and dozens of villages in Lopburi under water and made roads impassable in many areas. Government irrigation officials had to stop releasing water from the Pasak Jolasid dam to reduce flooding in Lopburi and Saraburi Provinces.

More than 1,000 families in Phitsanulok Province in the lower north have also been affected by floods. Rescue and aid workers used boats to reach flood-hit villagers.

Khon Kaen’s Muang District in the northeast is facing flash floods. Water levels of 1.20m flooded the Khon Kaen School for the Blind for two days. Teachers had to move more than 100 students to higher ground.

“Every time there’s a heavy rain in the province, our school is the hardest-hit. The building is on lower ground and is often flooded for weeks,” Komol Malaithong, the school’s director, told IRIN. “This time, we were trapped inside and had to ask the rescue team to bring a boat to take us out.”

In Prachin Buri province in the east, local residents have been stranded by flash floods from Khao Yai National Park as the water level reached 1.50m last week, according to the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation.

Although the water has been steadily receding, park chief Narong Mahannop said warnings of heavy rains and flooding had been issued and tourists were prohibited from visiting waterfalls or trekking in the forest for fear of possible landslides.


Photo: Thai Ministry of Health
Heavy downpours in the province caused floods that affected 23,500 families in Lopburi's six districts including Ban Mi

More than 5,000 first aid kits and 2,000 pairs of waterproof boots have been provided. A total of 100,000 first aid kits have been prepared for distribution to prevent outbreaks of water-borne diseases, including Leptospirosis and severe diarrhoea, Prat Boonyawongwirote, the Thai Public Health Permanent Secretary, said.

Prat also said a 10-million baht (US$290,000) emergency fund had been earmarked to renovate health services in flood-hit provinces.

More floods on the way

Meanwhile, the Meteorological Department is warning of more rain and floods in 23 northern and northeastern provinces to come.

In Ayutthaya Province, the rising water level in the Chao Phraya River is of increasing concern to riverside communities, who have begun to build walls of sandbags; while in Loei Province, the Loei River is about to break its banks and riverside villages are on 24-hour alert.

Loei's average rainfall this week was 145.5mm, while the water level in the Mekong River was 13.05m on Saturday.

Villagers living in areas near mountains and waterways in northeastern Thailand have been warned to be on alert and ready to move to higher ground due to possible flash floods and mudslides in the next few days, the agency warned.

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