Monday, October 10, 2011

Ayutthaya left in chaos: Govt pulls out all stops to help flood victims

Frantic efforts to protect Ayutthaya's inner town and parts of its key industrial estate have failed, forcing the government to order state officials to prepare for emergency evacuations in 10 provinces.
Patients are evacuated on a rubber boat by navy officers from the flooded Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Hospital in Ayutthaya’s Muang district yesterday. PHOTOS BY PATTANAPONG HIRUNARD

Under orders from Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, officials in the 10 Central Plains provinces are authorised to decide when and if evacuations will be carried out.

Resources will be allocated to protect areas still unaffected by flooding or which have already been hit by the deluge but still can be saved from further damage.

Evacuations will be carried out immediately in areas where flooding cannot be prevented.
Apart from Ayutthaya, the other provinces ordered to prepare for emergency evacuations are Ang Thong, Chai Nat, Chachoengsao, Lop Buri, Nakhon Sawan, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Sing Buri and Uthai Thani.

Under an agreement reached at the National Flood Relief Centre's meeting yesterday, the army will take over the job of protecting Ayutthaya, Lop Buri and Nakhon Sawan provinces from further damage.

Provincial governors have been charged with supervising the protection of other flooded provinces, and they will work closely with local police commanders, 191 police radio centre and the Royal Thai Police Office.

Prime Minister Yingluck said she expected the water level to peak on Wednesday and Thursday when the flow in Chao Phraya River in Nakhon Sawan province will reach between 4,800 and 4,900 cubic metres per second.

At that rate, the river will be an average of 20cm higher than usual for about a week, she said.
A mother carrying her newborn baby leaves the flooded Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Hospital when it was evacuated yesterday.

"The government is putting everything it has into helping people. Please do not panic but stay alert and be prepared. The government will keep you updated," she said.

Ms Yingluck chaired the National Flood Relief Centre's meeting yesterday to assess the situation after Ayutthaya's inner city island, where many ancient historical sites are located, was hit hard by flooding yesterday.

Frantic evacuation of residents added to the chaos after the water broke through the town's flood walls in many areas.

The rising water also forced the evacuation of the provincial hospital. Some 300 of the hospital's 600 patients were moved to the town hall while those in need of intensive care were flown by helicopter to hospitals in Bangkok.

One part of Rojana Industrial Park, the province's key industrial zone, also became inundated after failed efforts by workers to repair a damaged levee around the manufacturing enclave following a breach on Saturday.

Ms Yingluck said she had instructed the Industry Ministry to mobilise all resources to salvage the flooded parts of Rojana Industrial Park and other industrial areas in Ayutthaya.
She said the floods had affected only the Phase 1 area of Rojana Industrial Park while the two other sections under Phase 2 and Phase 3 were still dry.

Science and Technology Minister Plodprasop Suraswadi admitted yesterday the National Flood Relief Centre had missed the mark on the severity of the flooding.
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