Monday, October 10, 2011

Prepare to evacuate: PM

Prepare to evacuate: PM

Yingluck to govt agencies: Make plans now to move people to places where aid can be delivered easily

Critical areas: nakhon Sawan, Ayutthaya, Uthai Thani, Chai Nat, Sing buri, Angthong, Nonthaburi, Lop Buri, Pathum Thani and Chachoengsao; Premier orders watch over Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani water barriers

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday ordered government agencies to prepare to evacuate people, as measures to prevent flooding were not working.

"The locations that no longer can be protected, don't waste time to protect them but shift to moving people to safe places," Yingluck told reporters after a meeting at the Flood Relief Operations Command.

The critical provinces are Nakhon Sawan, Uthai Thani, Ayutthaya, Chai Nat, Sing Buri, Angthong, Lop Buri, Pathum Thani, Nonthaburi and Chacheongsao.

Agencies should maintain the integrity of flood barriers in Nonthaburi and Prathum Thani in particular as the two provinces are still in a position to be protected, she said.

For the evacuation, officials should take people to areas where the government can deliver relief supplies conveniently, she said.

Material assistance can arrive at only those locations accessible by trucks. The government would adjust the logistics system so all victims received sufficient sustenance, she said.

The government is now in a centralised mode, mobilising all agencies, manpower and resources to tackle the flood, she said. Previously, agencies worked separately to prevent floods without plan or direction, she said.

All agencies, no matter what their original duties were, would focus on helping to fight the flood, she said. The military, Irrigation Department and local administrations would cooperate closely to deal with the situation, she said.

Yingluck, together with many Armed Forces commanders, would take a helicopter ride to inspect the inundated areas in Ayutthaya to see whether relief supplies and survival kits had reached the victims, spokesperson Wim Rungwattanachinda said.

Almost all the people from the inundated areas in Ayutthaya are now on safe ground. Only some of them wanted to stay over in their residences, he said.

Yingluck spent most of her time at the flood relief centre in Don Mueang Airport. She called a meeting with Defence Minister Yuthasak Sasiprapha, Armed Forces commanders and Science and Technology Minister Plodprasob Surassawadi.

The military would open their camps to flood victims seeking shelter, she said, adding that the Air Force and Navy would take charge of transporting flood refugees.

If any private sector members have sites on high ground available for shelters, the government needs their support since some areas such as Ayutthaya are fully occupied, she said.

Speaking in a televised address, the premier urged people not to panic, and advised them to prepare well for inundation. Some areas of the capital - most notably the northern and eastern parts - are at risk, she said.

The government could forecast the weather from now until Wednesday, but there was still no clear information on the next rainstorm or typhoon, she said.

The government is now on alert at all times, she said.

The flooding this year has left more than 261 people dead and 30 provinces submerged.

The natural disaster has forced Yingluck to postpone her plan to pay introductory visits to Malaysia and Singapore this week.

Plodprasob said Ayutthaya is the most flooded location and in critical danger as it is situated at the confluence of many rivers. Authorities underestimated the amount of runoff water from the North, he said.
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