Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Many electrocuted during flood

Bangkok Post

A total of 384 people were confirmed dead in the floods that have inundated many provinces since July 25, the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department said on Tuesday.
Photo by Rattaseema Pongsen
The floods still prevail in 147 districts of 26 provinces, affecting 2,110,152 people, the department said.

The provinces are Phichit, Phitsanulok, Nakhon Sawan, Uthai Thani, Chai Nat, Sing Buri, Angthong, Ayutthaya, Lopburi, Saraburi, Suphan Buri, Nakhon Pathom, Pathum Thani, Nonthaburi, Samut Sakhon, Ubon Ratchathani, Khon Kaen, Si Sa Ket, Surin, Roi Et, Mahasarakham, Kalasin, Chachoengsao, Nakhon Nayok, Prachin Buri and Bangkok.

The department on Sunday reported the death toll at 381.

The Public Health Ministry's Disease Control Department said that although only 17 people were officially reported as having died of electrocution, it was believed more than 50 people had actually lost their lives because of power leaks.

Department director general Pornthep Sirivanarangsan said although this was tragic he was more concerned about the spread of communicable diseases.

He said during visits to various evacuation centres in Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani and Nakhon Pathom he found that the number of deaths from electrocution was high.

Those who died in this manner were flood victims who waded through the water to check on their evacuated  houses.

Although the power had been cut to their houses, they still risked being killed by electricity leaks from nearby houses. Some of them tripped on submerged live power transmission lines.

"Apart from drowning, electrocution is a worrying cause of deaths.

"Although the official report says only 17 people died of electrocution, the actual figure is probably more than twice that, about 50," he said.

"Some of the deaths in Bang Bua Thong district of Nonthaburi province were apparently caused by power leaks, but they were reported to have died of drowning. In fact, they were electrocuted before they drowned," Dr Pornthep said.

He pointed to a case of an incorrect method of helping an electrocuted person. A mother and her child had both died after she tried to help her child with her bare hands. She should have used a dry piece of cloth to pull the child out of danger.

The Disease Control Department chief said most of the flood victims he visited did not have toilets because where they stayed was flooded.

A lack of toilets would lead to the spread of disease, he said.

Department deputy chief Suwanchai Wattanayingcharoenchai said his agency had reports of many people suffering food poisoning.

Mr Suwanchai said reports from 232 flood-hit districts in 33 provinces during Oct 5 to 19 said more than 4,000 people had fallen ill with diarrhea which is caused by consuming contaminated food.

Precooked food stored for a long time before distribution is one cause of food poisoning, he said.
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