CHIANG RAI – The Marine Department on Saturday warned Mekong River communities in Chiang Rai have been warned to brace for floods after the upstream Jinghong dam in China began discharging increased levels of water.
On Saturday the The Marine Department told people living in Chiang Saen district to prepare to move their belongings and evacuate at short notice.
Songglod Duanghakloang, director of the 1st regional Marine Office in Chiang Rai, said the Mekong River stood at 5.5m on Friday but had risen by an additional 30cm yesterday due to heavy rainfall and the volume of water coming from theJinghong .
“We are still monitoring how water from the dam in China will affect the Mekong River,” Mr Songglod said. “As far as I know, more water is going to be discharged from the dam shortly.”
Mr Songglod said two villages in tambon Vieng of Chiang Saen district are already flooded due to heavy rainfall.
Locals in other parts of the district reacted to the flood warning with panic, amid speculation that the Chinese dam could discharge water at the rate of 9,000 cubic metres per second, due to heavy rainfall in the upper Mekong region.
Villagers said they feared such huge amounts of water would inundate the district.
Rangsan Kwanmaungderm, senior assistant district chief in Chiang Saen, said he ordered village chiefs to closely monitor water levels in the river.
“Floods are inevitable if the water level in the Mekong reaches 7.3 metres,” Mr Rangsan said.
Meanwhile, floods that had blighted the Thai-Myanmar border market in Mae Sai district since Thursday appeared to have eased yesterday, allowing business to resume.
However, locals still fear a new round of floods because torrential rain continues to batter the Myanmar side of the border.