Saturday, October 22, 2011


Bangkok Post

Flooding broke out across northern Bangkok yesterday as floodwaters from Ayutthaya and Pathum Thani stressed canals and flood barriers across the city.
STILL ON TRACK: A train pushes through a flooded track as it approaches Don Muang station on its way to central Bangkok. The flood from Pathum Thani reached Don Mueang airport yesterday. PHOTO: PATIPAT JANTHONG

Experts warned that worse is to come, as water from the Central Plains puts increasing pressure on the city's outer flood barriers and inner city canals, potentially leading to flooding across many major districts in the city.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra urged city residents to move their possessions and cars to higher ground, and cautioned that flooding could take as long as six weeks to subside within the capital.

About 113,000 people have been relocated to rescue shelters due to the floods. Authorities say 1,743 evacuation centres are open and able to accomodate over 800,000 people.
WASHED AWAY: A man washes his face with floodwater in front of Rangsit Market in Pathum Thani. PHOTO: PATIPAT JANTHONG

At relief centre: Flood refugees moved to second floor
The situation could reach a crisis point from Friday to Sunday when tides in the Gulf of Thailand are scheduled to peak, which will slow the outflow of water from the capital to the sea.

Bangkok has been mostly spared from the floods to date. But this is sure to change as authorities announced last week plans to open sluice gates in the city, which could lead to widespread flooding in the capital but would also allow the massive pools of water to the north in Ayutthaya and central Thailand to drain faster into the Gulf of Thailand.

Bangkok Governor MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra said while water levels in the Chao Phraya have risen and flooding is reported in many areas, the situation was still controllable.

Officials were working to shore up flood barriers along Khlong Rangsit in Pathum Thani, but warned that flooding could reach Don Muang, including the government's Flood Relief Operations Command (Froc) at Don Mueang airport.

Residents outside of the main city flood wall should leave immediately to evacuation centres, as water levels will continue to rise.

Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) officials are monitoring several key areas: Khlong Hok Wa in Sai Mai district in eastern Bangkok, areas near Khlong Mahasawat in Thon Buri and the north along Khlong Rangsit adjacent to Pathum Thani.
HIGH AND NOT DRY: Apartment buildings in Pathum Thani’s Rangsit area are surrounded by floodwater. For a photo gallery, please go to PHOTO: THITI WANNAMONTHA

Seree Supharatid, director of the Disaster Warning Centre at Rangsit University, warned that unless the BMA completely opens its inner sluice gates to relieve pressure along key outer canals, flooding could break out across the capital. Khlong Rangsit is simply unable to cope with the water coming into the city from Ayutthaya, he said.

"If the BMA does not open all the sluice gates, the water will simply overflow Khlong Rangsit, affecting Vibhavadi Rangsit Road, Don Muang, Lak Si, Thung Song Hong all the way to Bang Khen," he said. "To the east at Khlong Hok Wa, so long as the water cannot flow naturally, it may overwhelm the city flood barrier to flood Kaset-Nawamin, Rarm Intra and Lat Phrao."

Dr Seree predicted widespread flooding within the next four to five days, as water from Nonthaburi's Sai Noi and Bang Bua Thong districts race through Taling Chan on the Thon Buri side of the city.

Froc yesterday warned residents in Thon Buri and Nakhon Pathom's Phuttamonthon to brace for flooding in the next few days when the northern run-off is expected to arrive in western Bangkok.

Chainarin Panpinyaporn, a regional director of the Irrigation Department, said officials would try to manage the inflow as gradually as possible to allow residents in affected areas time to evacuate to safety. But he acknowledged that it remains uncertain whether the Khlong Hok Wa barrier, built up to 1.5m, is sufficient to withstand the force of water pressuring the main flood wall at Sai Mai district in eastern Bangkok.

Along the flood barrier at Khlong Hok Wa, water could be seen seeping through the hastily constructed sandbag barrier, leading to scattered incidents of flooding across the Sai Mai area.

BMA officials raced from one area to the next with water pumps in an effort to channel the water back into the canal.

To the north of Sai Mai, the Highway Department ordered the Rangsit-Nakhon Nayok highway closed as floodwaters rose to as high as one metre, forcing motorists entering the capital from the north to use Vibhavadi Rangsit Road or the Don Muang tollway.

The volume of water pushing against the flood barriers and canal system is so high that leakages were reported along Vibhavadi Rangsit Road near the Don Mueang Airport through the drainage system. Water levels of five centimetres were reported across two lanes of Vibhavadi Rangsit Road, forcing airport authorities to erect temporary barriers in a bid to prevent flooding of the road.

In Don Muang, water levels were reported at 30 to 40cm along Songprapa Road to the Pracha Uthit intersection. On Nawongpattana Road, running to Songprapa, floodwaters reached as high 50cm, impassible for most small cars.

On Phahon Yothin Road, near the National Memorial and Thupatemee Stadium, water reached 30cm.

On the other side of the city in Lak Hok, Pathum Thani, residents reported strain against flood barriers along Khlong Rangsit, resulting in flooding across the area and frantic attempts by the armed forces to shore up the sandbag wall.

Lak Hok municipality clerk Taweewit Pantachart expressed "grave concern" about the situation, as water levels in Khlong Rangsit continue to rise.

Residents in Lak Hok, Muang Ake and communities along Khlong Prem Prachakorn have been told to raise their belongings to above ground or consider evacuating.

A sandbag barrier erected along the Chao Phraya in Samsen gave way, leading to minor flooding near the Bang Krabue intersection. Soldiers put up extra sandbags to stop the flooding from closing Samsen Road.
GET US OUT OF HERE: Residents in Bang Bua Thong of Nonthaburi evacuate after floods arrive from Pathum Thani into their community. PHOTO: CHANAT KATANYU
GARBAGE STRIKE: Floodwater has also swept rubbish to houses at the mouth of the Rangsit canal. PHOTO: PATIPAT JANTHONG
MANY HANDS: Volunteers pass sandbags used to build flood walls around Lat Krabang industrial estate. PHOTO: PATTANAPONG HIRUNARD
CAUGHT IN THE CYCLE: A man rides through the flooded part of Phahon Yothin Road in Don Muang district. PHOTO: APICHIT JINAKUL
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