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Thailand Live Saturday 15 Oct 2011

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Thailand Live Saturday 15 October 2011

News, Bits and Tweets

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Keep up to date with live updates from the news, hour by hour.

For breaking news,national, regional and international news updates on a daily basis only, this thread is closed to commentary so that those who wish to follow the news can find it here...

Commentary is still open for Thailand news in the relevant thread posted in News Clippings.

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Related topic: Thailand Live Friday 14 Oct 2011

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1,000 villagers flee collapse of small dam in Ang Thong

The Nation

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A small dam collapsed in Ang Thong's Muang district, causing floods to spread to vast areas and prompting 1,000 residents in five villages to move their belongings.

The dam collapsed under the pressure of overflowing water following many hours of heavy rains, while the excessive water increased the currents in the swelling Thung Lam Tha Daeng nearby. The flood waters rose to a metre high in urban areas and markets in Muang district.

The provincial flood relief centre said a brimming Chao Phraya section was filled with water travelling from Sing Buri and Lop Buri, and the dam's collapse worsened the situation. A major school was also flooded with the provincial prison also facing the threat. Residents in tambon Sala Daeng and Pa Ngew have been warned.

Bang Pla Ma district in Suphan Buri, covering more than 100 households in tambon Ongkharak, has been under three metres of water.

Four major bridges have been closed to traffic indefinitely due to the swelling Chao Phraya River, and the canals under them - Rama IV, Rama V, KrungthepNonthaburi and RangsitPathum Thani - the Department of Highways said yesterday.

There are 102 key roads in 18 provinces that are now impassable due to flooding while 40 flooded roads are still useable, directorgeneral Wanchai Phaklak said. He called on motorists to study the road situation and alternatives before beginning their journey. They could also contact information service at the Department's call centre on 1586, or Highways Police on 1193 around the clock.

A 4,500squaremetre area belong to the Treasury Department in the government centre off Chaeng Wattana Road in northern Bangkok has been opened to shelter about 1,000 flood victims if needed, said Deputy Finance Minister Viroon Tejapaibul. A meeting hall is also open to host 800 government officials moved away from their flooded offices.

An indoor gymnasium inside the Public Health Ministry is open to prepare for 500 evacuees, with food, drinking water and mosquito nets ready, said Public Health Minister Witthaya Buranasiri, in case the shelter at a sports complex in Nonthaburi is overloaded.

Thailand is asking to study and possibly follow a flood relief plan used by the US government, which proved effective during the Katrina crisis a few years ago, Foreign Minister Surapong Towichukchaikul said. He added that a number of diplomats based in Thailand would be invited over to the Centre next week to observe how it operated.

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-- The Nation 2011-10-15

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Soldiers, officials work hard as runoff swamps Nakhon Sawan

The Nation

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Residents told to evacuate even though water levels still 30 centimetres lower than Chao Phraya

Though soldiers from the Third Army Region have been working nonstop for many days to slow down the water gushing into Nakhon Sawan, it will still take at least 15 days to pump the water out of the municipal area, the governor said yesterday.

Governor Chairote Meedaeng said yesterday that the water level in the city area was still 30 centimetres lower than the Chao Phraya River, but it is expected to rise to the same level soon.

As soon as the runoff in Nakhon Sawan can be controlled, the military will use sandbags to fix broken barriers, he said. He added that almost 8,000 people had moved to 11 evacuation centres, which could accommodate 30,000 people.

Chavalit Pongsittisak, chief of the Nakhon Sawan provincial disaster prevention and mitigation office, advised residents to move to evacuation centres yesterday so officers can handle the situation.

Chairote's deputy, Sak Somboonto, said a steel bridge had been set up from the Dechatiwong Bridge to City Hall allowing people to commute more easily. However, the neck of Dechatiwong Bridge, a key thoroughfare for the province, is damaged and safety has become a concern.

Mayor Chittakasem Nirotethanarat said the facility housing the provincial water mains was flooded and out of order, though repairs were ongoing.

Part of a dyke collapsed late on Thursday night, allowing water from the Ping River to flood Woranart Banpot Temple and Paknampo market. People were advised to evacuate as the water is expected to rise to a metre high.

The City Hall, provincial prison, Nakhon Sawan Rajabhat University and the markets were under a metre and a half of water, while water reached houses' roofs in some areas.

Meanwhile, provincial police commander Pol MajGeneral Chadin Prompaiboon had papers moved from his office to the second floor as the water was at chesthigh level.

On behalf of His Majesty the King, Disathorn Watcharothai, chairman of the Rajaprajanugroh Foundation, donated floodrelief items to 5,000 families in five of the province's evacuation centres.

Since there was no electricity or water supply, Kamphaeng Phet's groundwater office and the provincial waterworks office supplied clean water to Nakhon Sawan evacuation centres.

Chamroen Sangkaworn, who is in charge of the province's power supply, said officers had to cut off electricity in some flooded areas for people's safety.

So far, two people have drowned and another was electrocuted.

Provincial public health chief Buares Sripratak said all hospitals were out of service, and the inpatients had been evacuated to hospitals within a 120kilometre radius since Monday.

Eleven patients in critical condition were moved to betterequipped hospitals by air on Thursday and 30 more were evacuated yesterday, he said. More evacuations would be considered on a casebycase basis.

Outpatient and emergency services are available at a temporary centre near the Paholyothin junction.

Meanwhile, Nan residents and redshirt supporters in Lamphun have held separate events to raise funds for Nakhon Sawan flood victims.

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-- The Nation 2011-10-15

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Germany gives Bt1.7m to Red Cross

The Nation

German Ambassador Rolf Schulze yesterday handed over a cheque for 40,000 euros (Bt1.7 million) to Phan Wannamethee, secretarygeneral of the Thai Red Cross Society, to assist the Red Cross and the people of Thailand in their efforts to cope with the ongoing flood crisis.

The funds have been released by the government of the Federal Republic of Germany and will be used to buy two lifeboats and other items of humanitarian aid.

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-- The Nation 2011-10-15

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Floods see govt cut 2012 export growth target

Petchanet Pratruangkrai

The Nation

The severe flooding has prompted the Commerce Ministry to revise downward its export growth target for next year from 15 per cent because of damage to many industrial estates and the logistic systems.

Anchalee Promnart, deputy director-general of the Department of Export Promotion, said the serious floods would lower exports in the first quarter next year, as many enterprises have suspended their operations and shipments.

The financial crunch in Europe and economic problems in the United States are also expected to contribute to lower trade growth in the global market and affect Thai exports next year.

The department will soon call for a meeting with exporters and producers about export targets and promotion strategies for next year. It will also seek remedies for enterprises affected by flooding, she said.

Anchalee said Thailand should still achieve its 20-per-cent export-growth target to US$230 billion (Bt6.9 trillion) this year.

In addition, Thailand's high-profile health and beauty industry is expected to see exports rise 20 per cent to more than Bt130 billion this year as awareness grows of health and beauty products and recognition increases of the quality of Thai products and services.

Ketmanee Lertkitcha, president of the Thai Cosmetics Manufacturers Association, said that because of high competition in the cosmetics market, Thai manufacturers are trying to create their own quality-brand products to attract foreign buyers.

"Manufacturers are trying to adapt quality herbs and plants into our products, as foreign customers are paying more attention to natural products with special physiological actions to benefit health," she said.

Nahkah Tawichawatt, vice president of the Herbal Industry Club of the Federation of Thai Industries, said Thai herb producers will next year focus more on promoting herbal and supplementary products overseas after focusing on the domestic market.

The herbal products trade is expected to grow to Bt90 billion next year, from Bt80 billion this year, he said.

To promote Thai health and beauty products, the Commerce Ministry will host the "Thailand Health and Beauty Show 2011" at Bitec from October 30 to November 3.

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-- The Nation 2011-10-15

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Boat owners join Navy in drainage effort

The Nation

A number of boat owners have confirmed their participation in a planned project to speed the flow of water from the Chao Phraya River into the sea, Navy chief Admiral Surasak Runroengrom said yesterday.

The Royal Thai Navy will work together with the private sector to use a fleet of some 1,000 boats to help push water out to sea tomorrow (Oct16), he said.

The Navy had already used this technique in Salaya district of Nakhon Pathom, and in the Lad Pho and Sappasamit canals, the admiral said.

It had also deployed 300 officers to build water barriers in Salaya and made 300 rafts available for use in Ayutthaya, he said.

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-- The Nation 2011-10-15

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Minister retracts statement on flooding

The Nation

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Referring to his statement on Thursday predicting widespread flooding in Bangkok caused by damage to the Bang Phrao watergate in Pathum Thani's Sam Khok district, which caused panic among residents, Science Minister Plodprasob Surassawadee explained: "I only said it out of concern for the lives and properties of people."

During a visit yesterday to the watergate, which is undergoing aroundtheclock repairs, he said 70 per cent of the damaged bits had been repaired and the gap would be plugged by today. Though he did not apologise for making a misleading statement, he did extend his thanks to the military, civilian officials and villagers who have been helping.

Since October 9 Sunday, both sides of the watergate have been damaged by strong currents, allowing water to submerge the eastern part of the district. On Thursday, Plodprasob predicted that a large area of Bangkok would be flooded by water travelling through the broken Bang Phrao watergate.

"We finally have enough metal sheets and heavy machinery," he said, adding that he was confident that there would be no flooding in the capital.

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration lent the machinery to Pathum Thani authorities to help repair the watergate, deputy BMA spokesman Wasant Meewong said.

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-- The Nation 2011-10-15

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