CHIANGRAI TIMES – The Royal Thai police have summoned a 73-year-old man to face charges of causing public harm by publicizing a prophesy that one of the country’s largest dams would burst on New Year’s Eve, reports said Tuesday.
Police in Tak province, 380 kilometers north of Bangkok, gave Thongbai Khamsi until January 10 to acknowledge the charge or face arrest.
Thongbai last month informed local media of a prophecy made by his son, a purported 5-year-old psychic, that the Bhumibol Dam would burst on December 31, 2011.
The boy made the prophecy 37 years ago, shortly before his death. Thongbai claimed that his son had correctly predicted that a tsunami would hit Thailand in 2004
. Assistant director of the dam operations Sirichai Saengsuwan said the compound was open to public after sundown for the first time so as to ease worries.
“Sometimes, people have so much faith in rumours that they ignore facts,” he said.
According to him, the Bhumibol Dam is strong and durable enough to withstand an earthquake of up to 7.5 Richter scale in magnitude. The dam is currently releasing 45 million cubic metres of water each day because it is at its capacity.
“But the dam has been able to store water to the fullest of its capacity thrice before and there have been no adverse impacts,” Sirichai said.
Worries among the residents in Tak was evident as some were seen leaving home to camp out at a hill nearby for the New Year holidays.
Elsewhere, people were in a celebratory mood, especially in the North, where people have been gathering to enjoy cool temperatures.
“Normally, we have 90 buses coming in each day, but today more than 170 buses have already arrived,” Somnuk Hasassilp, chief of the Chiang Mai bus terminal, said.
Provincial officials said the false prediction caused a drop of 90 per cent in tourist arrivals to Tak during the holiday season, and a loss of 400 million baht (13.3 million dollars) in income.
In December 2010, a well-known soothsayer in Chiang Mai, 650 kilometres north of Bangkok, predicted that Thailand’s south-western sea coast would be hit by another tsunami during the New Year season.
That prediction, which proved false, led to a sharp decrease in tourist arrivals to popular southern beach resorts.
Anna Wong -CRT