CHIANG RAI -Authorities from Chiang Rai Marine Office have put people living along the Mekong River on high alert because a dam in Yunnan province in southern China needs to release a huge volume of water soon due to heavy rainfall upstream.
“If the discharge from China’s Jinghong Dam reaches 8,000-9,000 cubic metres per second, the water level will increase by about three meters (within days),” Songklod Duanghaklang, director of the Chiang Rai Marine Office, said yesterday.
Heavy rains have caused huge runoffs from Pha Mee and Nang Non mountains in Mae Sai district flooded communities in Pong Pha, Pong Ngam and Wiang Phang Kham sub-districts.
Many hill tribe people lost their farm animals to the flows. Hundreds of houses were damaged. Phahon Yothin Highway in Mae Sai was also flooded and some sections leading to the mountains were cut off.
Mr.Veerasak Sirisiddhi, Chiang Saen’s District Chief told Thai Rath Online on Saturday that the Marine Department’s Chiang Rai office was told on Friday by a Chinese cargo ship’s crew that the water level of Jinghong Dam had elevated quickly due to heavy rain.
As a result, from Sept 4-30, the dam will discharge at the rate up to 9,000 cubic meters a second.
This would lift the Mekong River’s level by at least three meters from 4.62m at present, flooding Ban Saew subdistrict.
But if the Mekong water level exceeds 10m, the Chiang Saen municipality will be flooded.
The water mass will reach Chiang Saen on Sunday and people have been warned.
“Apart from the Chinese dam’s discharge, continual rain will result in swelling Chan and Kham rivers, which may not be able to discharge into the Mekong River because of the high water level,” he said.
“If this happens, Pa Sak and Sri Donmoon sub-districts will definitely be inundated,” he added.
Songlod Duanghaklang, head of the Marine Department’s Chiang Rai office said if the Mekong River water level was around seven metres, Chiang Saen’s plain might not be affected.
In the northern province of Phayao, heavy rain on Friday night caused a runoff that hit five villages in Oi sub-district of Pong district the next morning. The water damaged nearly three square kilometres of corn and bean plantations. About 500 farmers were affected.
Chatchai Phromlert, director-general of the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, said on Saturday that flooding remained in Sukhothai, Tak and Nakhon Sawan provinces.
Since Aug 26, floods have hit 27 provinces, affecting about 12,000 families and killing nine people, he said.