Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bangkok opens watergates

The Nation October 21, 2011 7:00 am
Bangkok opens watergates

Military vows allout efforts to rescue stranded flood victims

Runoff water from the upper part of the country has finally proved "too huge" for the government to keep out of Bangkok.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday told the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) to use the capital's canals to direct runoff water out to the sea.

"We have asked the BMA to open all watergates along the capital's waterways. Then, we should be able to push between 8 million to 10 million more of cubic metres of water into the sea per day," she said.

Although, Yingluck tried to assure city residents that Bangkok's canals would not overflow, she fell short of clearly explaining how the government would control the water level and volume.

The PM held a meeting with Royal Irrigation Department directorgeneral Chalit Damrongsak and Bhichit Rattakul, a former Bangkok governor, to discuss the plan yesterday afternoon.

"We are trying to find out how to push as much water as possible into the eastern part of Bangkok. There, we have already dredged seven canals to facilitate the water flow into the sea," the prime minister said.

She then just added that ridges and embankments would also be used to prevent the overflow and to divert the water into Bangkok's eastern part.

"This is the fastest way to push the water out into the sea," Yingluck said.

She told Bangkok residents in Sai Mai, Bang Khen, Klong Sam Wa, Nong Chok, Min Buri, Lat Krabang and Khannayow districts to move their belongings to spots at least one metre above the ground.

She said the water from Bangkok's canals would not overflow onto the roads. "But if it does overflow, we will use pumps," she said.

Asked whether Bangkok could be considered safe from floods, Yingluck said, "It's a surveillance area. It's not a risky area".

The military has pledged allout efforts to evacuate stranded residents in heavily flooded Bang Bua Thong district in Nonthaburi, the government Flood Relief Operations Centre announced.

Anyone calling for help can signal to barges passing their homes with flashlights or lighted candles, or call 1131, said military officials, present for the first time in uniform during a FROC press conference.

Bangkok Governor MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra said the BMA could release 1,600 cubic metres of water per second into the sea.

"We will do our best to assist the central government but we will take into account impacts on local people, too," he said.

China Premier Wen Jiabao insisted yesterday to send a total of 170 heavy pumps to help Thailand fight the floods crisis.

He offered the assistance to Deputy Prime Minister Kittiratt na Ranong during his threeday trip to China until this weekend.

Wen said the first lot of 150 pumps with a capacity of 78 tonnes per hour each will arrive by tomorrow afternoon and the remainder, with greater capacity of 200 tonnes, will be delivered later.
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