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From the Nation on Sunday

Waters rising in Lat Phrao; Din Daeng on alert

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) yesterday ordered the evacuation of residents of Soi Charansanidwong 13 in Bangkok Yai district's Tha Phra sub-district; and in the Khlong Kwang, Bang Waek, Bang Duan and Bang Chak sub-districts of Phasi Charoen district, due to flooding.

Many people living on Lat Phrao Road, which was inundated by 15-20cm of water from overflowing sewerage pipes, chose to evacuate, although most shops and petrol stations remained open. Their operators said they would close if the flood water reached knee level. Paholyothin Road in front of Central Lat Phrao shopping mall was under some 40cm of water.

Meanwhile, Provincial Administrative Department deputy chief Boonsong Techamaneesathit reported that flooding remained serious in 25 provinces, affecting 3.1 million people. The casualty toll stood at 446 deaths and two missing persons.

BMA Governor MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra told a press conference yesterday that the Chao Phraya River was at 2.20-meters above mean sea level and that the water situation in Bangkok's canals was stable. However, he was concerned that flood water had reached the five-way Lat Phrao intersection and was headed towards the Din Daeng and Saphan Kwai areas, posing a risk to residents there, especially in Din Daeng's Bang Sue canal-side community, Yoocharoen Ville in Soi Inthamara 41 and Yoocharoen Ville Phase 3.

It was possible that the flooding could reach Victory Monument, he said.

With parts of eastern Bangkok under 5-10 cm of water, Sukhumbhand said the BMA yesterday sent a letter to the national Flood Relief Operations Centre (FROC) asking that the Royal Irrigation Department open sluice gates and use all available pumps to divert flood water into the Bang Pakong River. The closure of Pathum Thani's Khlong 8, 9 and 10 sluice gates alleviates flooding in some areas, however, so the BMA would monitor the situation in eastern Bangkok for 48 hours and formulate a plan if the water continued to rise, he said.

Sukhumbhand said he had instructed BMA clerk Charoenrat Chotikarn to send four letters to FROC requesting assistance with the flooding situation in western Bangkok. In the first letter, the BMA urged FROC to drain water from Phasicharoen Canal to the Nakhon Chaisri River, while the BMA was told to resubmit its request for trucks, boats, water pumps and dried food to Interior permanent secretary Phranai Suwannarat on Thursday.

The governor explained that the BMA had to issue such letters to FROC and the Interior Ministry due to civil service procedures. He added that the ministry was helping the BMA source aid from particular provinces for specific evacuation centres. The Bang Phlad centre was being assisted by Trang province, for example, while Taling Chan was getting help from Ratchaburi and Thaveewattana from Phetchaburi.

In the afternoon, Sukhumbhand visited Soi Charansanidwong 13 in Bangkok Yai, which was under 30cm of polluted flood water, then visited some 200 evacuees at Wat Wijitkannimit School in Phasi Charoen. As flood water continued to spread on the Thon Buri side of the Chao Phraya River, he told evacuees that he was considering ordering the evacuation of another two sub-districts in Phasi Charoen - Khuha Sawan and Bang Wa - and said the BMA and FROC would join forces to drain as much water as possible into the Tha Chin River.

The six-kilometre-long "Big Bag" floodwall, comprising 6,000 giant sandbags, and which has been constructed to prevent flood water north of the capital from swamping Bangkok, is complete, Transport Minister Sukhampol Suwannathat said yesterday.

Sukhampol affirmed that the "Big Bag" shouldn't disrupt residents on either side of the floodwall and that so far no complaints had been filed. He said forestry officials and soldiers yesterday piled up more sandbags to strengthen the floodwall and he expected the BMA to begin continuous pumping of flood water out of the Vibhavadi and Paholyothin areas behind the floodwall. He said the water in Don Muang and Lak Si should continually subside, depending on the BMA's ability to pump water out. He said the "Big Bag" would not guarantee that central Bangkok would not flood, but would help to minimise it. He said the "Big Bag" project would not pump water into western Bangkok, but into the Chao Phraya River.

Amid concern that the flooding of Rama II Road would cut off land access to southern Thailand, Sukhampol said floodwalls could not be built to protect the road because it was too long, and because blocking it would prevent water from draining to the sea, as the road is near the coast. He instructed officials to restore flooded highway No 340 (Bang Bua Thong-Suphan Buri) for use by motorists as an alternative route for reaching Nakhon Pathom and southern Thailand, in case Rama II was fully submerged. Officials would lay 100,000 sandbags along the highway in Nonthaburi's Bang Bua Thong district, Sukhampol said.

The Disease Control Department yesterday warned Bangkokians that they might have to put up with polluted floodwater for another two to three weeks, and advised them to take measures to prevent the spread of leptospirosis, including not allowing children to swim in or swallow polluted floodwater. The department also campaigned for those remaining in flooded homes to separate garbage before disposal and to use emergency toilet sets rather than releasing waste into the flood water.

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Guest Monday, 21 April 2014

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