Saturday, October 15, 2011

Fourth Ayutthaya estate falls

Bangkok Post


Massive floods swamped a fourth major industrial estate in Ayutthaya yesterday, forcing authorities to order the evacuation of workers.
BRING A PADDLE: Roads now resemble canals in Pathum Thani’s commercial centre.
Water breached floodwalls to inundate Bang Pa-in Industrial Estate despite the efforts of the army and factory workers to reinforce defences.
Bang Pa-in district chief Nathee Borsuwan said people were ordered to move immediately to safe ground.
The water level was recorded at 80cm to one metre.
Soldiers and workers had raced to repair a broken floodwall on the eastern side of the estate since early on Friday but failed due to the strong flow of water.
STAYING AFLOAT: A resident being evacuated from an area near Pathum Thani provincial hall pulls a large plastic basin carrying household items and drinking water. PHOTO: PATIPAT JANTHONG
Since the Chao Phraya River overflowed and burst a dyke at Wat Chaiwattanaram on Oct 4, Ayutthaya and downstream areas have been inundated. The Saha Rattana Nakorn, Rojana and Hi-Tech industrial estates were flooded, causing billions of baht of damage.
Narapot Tewtanom, deputy governor of the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand, said all areas of the Bang Pa-in estate were flooded yesterday despite the efforts of authorities.
The four industrial estates have a combined investment value of about 194 billion baht, he said.
The Bang Pa-in estate houses 90 factories over an area of 1,962 rai with 60,000 workers. Most of the businesses are involved in electronics, electrical appliances, engines and garments.
Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha yesterday inspected Navanakorn Industrial Estate in Khlong Luang district of Pathum Thani to make sure measures are in place to block floodwater coming from Ayutthaya.
Gen Prayuth said the government's flood relief operation centre had asked the army to help tackle floods in industrial estates. He said the army has been struggling to salvage the Rojana, Hi-Tech and Saha Rattana Nakorn industrial estates.
The army is now concentrating on preventing floodwater from damaging the Navanakorn estate, Gen Prayuth said.
The estate is home to 227 manufacturing plants covering more than 8,000 rai, with more than 180,000 workers. Investment in the estate is valued at more than 100 billion baht.
Gen Prayuth said emphasis has been placed on protecting three flood-prone areas around the estate.
They comprise a northern embankment close to Khlong Chiang Rak, a western floodwall and a southern floodwall.
Soldiers were racing to produce more than 100,000 sandbags to reinforce the floodwalls, Gen Prayuth said.
He said residents living outside flood barriers protecting industrial estates have been affected by floods while areas within the protected zone were still safe, although a close watch was being kept on flood levels around the clock.
DIP IN PROFITS: An aerial photo shows flooded factories at Bang Pa-in Industrial Estate in Ayutthaya. It was the latest estate to be flooded as the deluge continued its destructive path towards Bangkok yesterday
He said the army, the navy and the Transport Ministry have worked together to dredge canals in the west and east of Bangkok to drain northern run-off to the sea as quickly as possible.
"We are trying our best to prevent floods to ensure the industrial estates can continue to operate," Gen Prayuth said.
Nipit Arunvongse na Ayudhya, managing director of Nava Nakorn Plc, the operator of the Navanakorn estate, said floodwater rose very high on Friday night.
"The water started coming down in the afternoon on Saturday to about one metre below the 5.5m dyke," he said.
However, a source said some overflowing water broke into the estate via part of a factory's dyke. But workers were able to pump water out to bring the water level under control.
Mr Nipit said 1,000 people are safeguarding the estate around the clock.
Authorities and workers are working to repair the earth embankment near Dechartiwong Bridge on the Asian Highway. Nakhon Sawan governor Chairoj Meedaeng said the province hopes to have the Asian Highway open today.
He said the province's flood relief centre is providing shelter to about 10,000 flood victims.
FUN FOR SOME: A boy plays with a remote-controlled boat in Soi Samsen 13 in Bangkok’s Dusit district. PHOTO: PATIPAT JANTHONG
LAST REFUGE: Vehicles parked on a rare patch of dry land cut off by floodwater in Ayutthaya’s Phak Hai district. PHOTO: SURAPOL PROMSAKA NA SAKOLNAKORN
INDUSTRIAL DISASTER: The Hi-Tech Industrial Estate in Ayutthaya after it was inundated by floodwater. PHOTO: THITI WANNAMONTHA
HOLIDAY MEMORIES: Tourists make their way along a wooden walkway in a flooded part of Tha Tian on the banks of the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok. PHOTO: PATIPAT JANTHONG
LIFE GOES ON: A woman washes clothes in her flooded riverfront home near the Krung Thon bridge in Bangkok. PHOTO: PATIPAT JANTHONG
NO ROADS, NO CARS, NO CUSTOMERS: A man guards a petrol station closed for two weeks due to flooding in Nonthaburi’s Bang Bua Thong district. PHOTO: CHANAT KATANYU
KEEPING FIT, IF NOT DRY: It’s exercise as usual for an elderly man despite the rising floodwater in the Ratchawong area of the capital. PHOTO: PATIPAT JANTHONG
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