Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Soldiers repair breached dyke

Soldiers repair breached dyke

Floodwaters destroyed some sections of the temporary dyke built along Rapheephat Canal yesterday afternoon, flooding some residences in Khlong Luang district's Khlong 3 and 4 areas, while Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra led an airborne inspection of the severely flooded Nava Nakorn Industrial Estate.

Nava Nakorn Hospital is also evacuating patients to prepare for power cuts in some areas.

Initially, a 10-metre-section of the dyke fell apart at 1pm, prompting officials and locals to use foundation pillars and sandbags to repair it. However, the flood waters continued eroding the barrier and submerging the nearby Rapheephat 1 housing estate, as officials alerted the Flood Relief Operations Centre (FROC) to send people to help prevent further flooding, otherwise the huge volume of water would pour into the Talad Thai area and Rangsit Prayoonsak Canal.

At press time, officials were repairing the barrier in order to protect Khlong 3 and Khlong 4 areas as well as the rest of Khlong Luang district from submerging.

Yingluck, accompanied by Transport Minister Sukampol Suwannathat and Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha, flew over the Nava Nakorn Industrial Estate in a helicopter at 3.20pm.

First Army Region Commander Lt-General Udomdetch Sitabutr said 90 per cent of the industrial estate was under water, and while 10 per cent of the factories in the area had been severely damaged by the two-metre-deep floods, many of them still cannot be assessed.

Meanwhile, some 600 military technicians have been given the job of fixing the breached flood barriers to the north and west of the estate, while soldiers are helping residents evacuate, he said.

Prayuth said the Army was pitching in to help life in Nava Nakorn return to normal, and that soldiers would also help build stronger flood barriers and pump water out in other industrial estates once the situation is stable. He also urged officials to check, repair and strengthen flood barriers along the Chao Phraya River and other waterways in Bangkok, as there were signs of them brimming over.

He also urged people to look for solutions instead of pointing fingers as he explained that a large volume of water would be directed to the sea via canals and rivers. However, despite the continuous dredging of canals, water was being drained far too slowly as the sea tides were on the rise yesterday.

Prayuth warned that the sea tide is expected to rise further on October 28-30, as he admitted that the Central region was in a critical situation.

He also admitted that many people were not ready for a compromise and wanted to share their woes equally, adding that the Army would help find more shelters if those available weren't sufficient and that the Army Region 4 was prepared to tackle flood in the South.

Justice Minister Pracha Promnok, in his capacity as chief of FROC, said they were considering opening five sluice gates later yesterday, as requested by the people in Nava Nakorn, though they still had to speak to those who would be affected first. As the government is planning to direct the floods to the sea via the east and west of the capital, he said the government would first discuss the matter with the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, adding that there was no need to declare a state of emergency yet.

Defence Minister General Yuthasak Sasiprapha said since soldiers were exhausted from working night and day to protect the Nava Nakorn estate, he had told them to work in shifts. He has also put a Chinook helicopter on standby to help move heavy objects.

Meanwhile, flood waters have moved through Phaholyothin and Rangsit-Pathum Thani roads and flooded the Chunchon Prachathipatwittayakhan School in Pathum Thani's Thanyaburi district that was being used as a temporary shelter for 320 evacuees. The Nakhon Rangsit Municipality is also warning residents of the 2,500-houshold 200-year-old Rattana-kosin housing estate to move their belongings to higher ground.

In Nonthaburi, the provincial rural highway office yesterday closed the Rama IV bridge to motorists at 5pm due to 60-centimetres of water and to make way for building a metre-high flood barrier and pumping out the water. The bridge is expected to reopen the next day.
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