Thailand’s Southern Provinces Declared Disaster Zone Due to Mass Flooding
BANGKOK – Thailand’s Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation announced that rains have affected more than 1,415 villages in the provinces of Pattani, Yala, Narthiwat and Songkla – three of which border Malaysia, recently experiencing its worst monsoon season in four decades.
At least eight people have been killed and two others remain missing in flooding in Thailand’s Muslim majority south following heavy downpour that led to the declaration of a disaster zone.
“The provincial governors have asked for emergency assistance and the army has responded,” Banpot Boonpien, spokesperson for the military’s International Security Operations Command, told the Bangkok Post.
While inspecting the region Friday, Thailand’s prime minister and junta chief, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, declared the four southernmost provinces as disaster areas.
That same day, provincial authorities ordered the release of water from the Bang Lang dam in Yala in order to prevent structural damage after water levels reached 99 percent of its capacity.
“The discharge of water from the Bang Lang dam will affect people in Yala and Pattani provinces. The level of the Pattani river will rise and the river will flood houses in risk areas along both sides of the river,” the Post quoted Wae Nimmuhammadnurdin, a senior engineer at the dam, as saying.
He explained that the hydropower dam, which had filled up with more than 1,400 million cubic meters of water, would discharge around 30 million cubic meters a day started at noon Friday.
Pattani’s deputy-governor, Weerapong Kaewsuwan, has ordered the evacuation of communities along the Pattani River in four districts.
During his visit to Narathiwat, PM Chan-ocha said flooding had been exacerbated this year due to roads being built without drains.
Monsoon season rains have wreaked havoc in Southeast Asia over the last week.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak cut his vacation in the U.S. short Friday after coming under criticism for being abroad while flooding in the tropical country led to the deaths of five people and the evacuation of over 103,000 others.