A girl stares at the place where her house sat until it was swept away by a flash flood that also triggered a mudslide
CHIANGRAI– The Meteorological Department issued a flash-flood alert for Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son, Phayao, Phrae, Tak, Loei, Nong Khai, Beung Kan (in Nong Khai), Sakon Nakhon and Nakhon Phanom because rain would continue falling even though the Nesat tropical depression had already been downgraded to a low-pressure ridge.
Residents of areas prone to mudslides or overflowing rivers in Chiang Mai were warned yesterday to get ready for immediate evacuation at any time, as the danger had become critical.
“In an emergency or if a disaster is clearly approaching, people must rush to safe places or gather at temples or schools,” said Komsan Suwan-ampha, chief of the Chiang Mai disaster-prevention-and-mitigation office.
“As the rain continues, the soil in some areas may not be able to absorb water anymore, so landslides may strike.” Low-lying areas along waterways and the foot of mountains especially in San Kamphaeng and San Pa Tong districts were designated as risk zones, he said.
The National Disaster Warning Centre urged people in the North and Upper Northeast to watch out for downpours, landslides and overflowing waterways. In recent weeks, landslides have caused many deaths in Chiang Mai, while many parts of this Northern Province were flooded.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Preecha Rengsomboonsuk said that in Chiang Mai City alone, floods had disrupted the lives of more than 10,000 families. “Some 3,000 families are hard hit,” he said.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra had approved a budget for Chiang Mai to buy 500,000 sandbags for use as a temporary fence against waterways that might overflow as downpours continued, he said.
At least 23 provinces are struggling from inundation and the flood-related death toll has soared to 206, while two victims were still missing.
Yingluck and her team visited Sing Buri to follow up on the repair of the Bang Chom Si sluice gate, which left local communities submerged after it was destroyed by fierce currents.
“Due to the raging water, repair work has faced much difficulty. However, crews are now working around the clock to try to complete the job as soon as possible.” That might take up to 15 days, she said.
The storm water needed to be flushed out to sea before another one moved in, she added.
Bangkok Governor MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra said Thailand would start coming under the influence of Typhoon Nalgae tomorrow, but the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration could manage the situation. “We have already formed sandbag walls on top of embankments along the Chao Phraya River at some spots,” he said.
In Lampang, a top part of the 1,342-year-old Phra That Muen Kruen fell down under heavy downpours. “We will inform the Fine Arts Department. Repair and renovation are needed,” abbot Phra Khru Inkam Intapuro said.
Lampang is among the most seriously flooded provinces. Kok Kha district chief Sriroj Nimmanratcharin said floodwaters at some spots were nearly two metres deep.