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Armed forces get SOS

Armed forces get SOS

Govt command orders military and police to assist in flood rescue effort

The Flood-Relief Operations Command (FROC) yesterday issued its first order to the military and police commanders in flood-ravaged provinces to urgently mobilise personnel and resources and evacuate people, protect their belongings and provide medical treatment until the floods subside.

A total of 253 people have been killed by the country's worst floods in 20 years, which have wreaked havoc in 30 provinces, mostly in the central and northern regions. About 8 million rai of farmland are expected to be destroyed, along with 9 million fish in farms.

Deputy Prime Minister Pracha Promnok, director of FROC, said the flood situation has reached a crisis and the worst is yet to come. Downstream provinces near the Chao Phraya Dam and Bangkok will be hard hit by floods from October 15-17 as impending storms are expected to coincide with high tides in the sea.

He instructed Ayutthaya Governor Withaya Piewpong to restore the province's economic zones that have been hit by flooding. The FROC suggested that 7,000 trucks of pebbles be used to build an embankment so as to prevent floods from damaging industrial estates in Ayutthaya.

Withaya said fast-moving units of Navy and Army officials used boats and GMCs to evacuate people from flooded areas to state offices. He said that although more flood victims were pouring into the flood-relief centres, there was enough food and water for them.

Pathum Thani Governor Peerasak Hinmuangkao said the province was trying its best to reinforce embankments and prevent flood waters from reaching Bangkok. However, it was facing shortages of sand and bags. He called for donations of the two items, and also sought volunteers to put the sand in the bags.About 300 prisoners were deployed in the relief operation.

Pracha said the major problem was the shortage of bags, not sand.

Peerasak said he would ask Thammasat University's Rangsit campus, Future Park Rangsit and Zeer Rangsit Department Stores to allow the use of their parking areas for cars.

Angthong Governor Wissawa Sasitmit said most residents in his province were refusing to be evacuated as they did not want to abandon their homes and assets, even though the water levels were rising steadily. He said some victims had taken refuge on the Asia Road to escape the flooding, causing traffic jams on the highway.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said the government is addressing the flood crisis to the best of its ability and had declared it as a national agenda that needed coordinated efforts from every sector.

She said she had instructed five provincial governors to release flood water into the sea during the low-tide period from October 6-12, before the arrival of more storms exacerbates the flood situation. However, the Chao Phraya and Bang Pakong rivers were at high levels, compelling water to be released slowly.

Manat Panuam, head of Uthai Thani's Tambon Nerncheng Administrative Organisation, said few people agreed to be temporarily evacuated from their homes. They have been gradually moving their belongings to higher parts of their homes, almost reaching the rooftop. Some wanted to stay put in their homes to protect their machinery and tractors.

Motorists using the Phaholyothin Highway heading to the North were yesterday stuck in a traffic jam extending to several kilometres as people in Nakhon Sawan took refuge on the road, bringing hundreds of motorcycles with them.


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