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Thailand Live Tuesday 18 Oct 2011

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Thailand Live Tuesday 18 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 Monday 17 Oct 2011

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Jet-ski operators, beach vendors to protect Phuket tourists

phuket-1-11226TRUuvNOcVnFQfvkdBUHrbDsosx.jpg

Patong Police Superintendent Arayapan Pukbuakao says recruiting beachfront

workers as police volunteers is expected to make Patong more tourist friendly.

Photo: Warisa Temran

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Air Force ready to move planes from Don Mueang

The Nation

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The Air Force has mapped out a contingency plan to relocate its aircraft if Don Mueang air base is flooded, spokesman Air Vice Marshal Monthon Satchukorn said yesterday.

Monthon spoke after Nava Nakorn Industrial Estate was flooded, with water spreading to Sai Mai and Rangsit. If Sai Mai in Bangkok is inundated, there is a strong chance the flood will also spread to Don Mueang.

"In case of flood at Don Mueang, Air Force planes would be redeployed at air bases across the country," he said.

The planes to be moved out of Bangkok would include C-130 transport aircraft. In regard to US help with flood relief, he said an advance team of the US Marine Corp arrived on Saturday to survey how it could help flood victims.

Should the Thai government request it, the US was willing to dispatch Sea Hawk helicopters to transport relief supplies, he said.

On the weekend, Premier Yingluck Shinawatra authorised the formation of three centres to coordinate flood relief, he said.

The Foreign Ministry would be in charge of coordinating foreign relief supplies. The Air Force would be responsible for air operations to distribute the relief and rescue flood victims. The Armed Forces headquarters would take charge of relief operations in the Central region.

The Air Force spokesman said the flooding had gone past the point of using helicopters in relief operations.

Remaining flood victims in remote areas did not want to be evacuated and relief supplies could be distributed by boats or vehicles, he said, noting that too many helicopters flying in a limited airspace over the flood waters could be a risk to air traffic.

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-- The Nation 2011-10-18

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Tap-water unaffected: MWA

The Nation

Metropolitan Waterworks Authority (MWA) officials yesterday reassured people in and around Bangkok there was no need to stockpile drinking water as MWA waterways had not flooded and tap-water could be produced as normal. Bottled water has sold out in some areas and is needed for flood victims.

The report was issued after MWA Governor Charoen Passara inspected Pathum Thani's Samlae water pump station and Khlong Rangsit's siphon pipes and instructed that a wall be strengthened to withstand rising flood water.

Mail stuck at Nakhon Sawan post office

About 5,000 letters and packages for residents in Nakhon Sawan have been stuck at the local post office (region 6) for a month due to floods in the Central region town, officials said yesterday.

Office head Somchai Jinda said the post office only had one boat - so residents should come to pick up their mail by boat, or they would keep it for them until the flood situation ended and postmen were able to deliver it to them again.

Help for students

Bangkok's Enconcept E-Academy has launched "Youth Flood Relief" to gather tutors and students to help flood victims, the school's deputy director and co-founder Arisara "Khru P Nan" Tanapakit said yesterday.

Under the project, students, parents and tutoring school staff helped pack relief bags with encouragement cards for flood victims, especially youths, while expressing moral support via a Facebook page.

Arisara said 34 Enconcept branches nationwide would also gather donation items to pass to state agencies' flood relief teams.

Joining with the OnDemand and A-Level tutoring schools, Enconcept would also give a Bt2-million scholarship program to tutor flood-affected students who have to take GAT/PAT exams in late November. She urged those interested in applying for the scholarships to contact Enconcept branches nationwide on (02) 736 3636 or visit www.enconcept.com or www.facebook.com/krupnan

Pathum Thani Court shuts

Pathum Thani Provincial Court yesterday postponed all court trials indefinitely due to flooding. Provincial court judge Urairat Noisuwan said the court would contact all litigants about new dates for court trials after the flood subsides and things return to normal. For more details, call (02) 581 6303 extensions 301, 200 and (02) 581 6556 during office hours.

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-- The Nation 2011-10-18

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200,000 evacuated as water breaches Nava Nakorn Industrial Estate

The Nation

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Chaos reigned as over 200,000 people were ordered to evacuate from the 8,000-rai Nava Nakorn Industrial Estate in Pathum Thani yesterday, and flood shelters prepared to transfer evacuees to new sites fearing they would themselves soon be inundated.

Shortly before noon, a five-metre section of Nava Nakorn Industrial Estate's protective dyke was breached, sending flood water gushing into the industrial site.

The Flood Relief Operations Command (FROC) ordered industrial plants at the estate to cease operations and evacuate workers, spokesman Wim Rungwattanachinda said at 12.30pm.

Two hundred buses plus military and police vehicles were waiting at the entrance of the industrial estate to take the evacuees to shelters, FROC officials said.

Deputy national police commissioner Pol Lt-General Pongsapat Pongcharoen said at a press conference that the Dhammakaya evacuation centre could shelter some 5,000 people, while the centre at the Thanyaburi district office could accommodate 20,000.

He said the Government Complex could shelter 1,000 more evacuees, while the TU Dome at Thammasat University Rangsit campus could shelter 3,000.

Nava Nakorn is home to over 200 factories with about 175,000 workers. There are also more than 30,000 households with over 100,000 residents around the estate.

The evacuation itself was hectic, with evacuees confused about which vehicles would take them to which of the prepared shelters.

The confusion was briefly compounded when FROC director-general Pracha Promnok held a press conference at 2pm to rescind the evacuation order, saying that only part of the industrial estate was flooded, only for the agency to hold another press conference after 3pm asking people to leave for their safety.

In the meantime, Kampol Ruchiwit, the vice rector for administration at Thammasat's Rangsit campus, said parts of a dyke to its west were found to be cracked and that the water level there was rising steadily.

The shelter there had reached its capacity of 3,800 evacuees. They were housed in Gymnasium 1, deemed the campus' safest venue. The shelter's kitchen was moved to higher ground for safety reasons, Kampol said.

The gymnasium was surrounded by a 1.5-metre-high sandbag wall, but it needed to be reinforced, he said.

More workers were needed to reinforce the shelter's dykes, Kampol said, as existing workers and volunteers were exhausted after days of work.

Kampol believed there was a 70 per cent chance that the campus would be flooded. But the university would do its best to keep evacuees safe.

Phra Sinthawong Wutthiwangso, in charge of Dhammakaya Temple's public relations, said the temple was preparing to evacuate more than 2,000 of its monks and novices, plus more than 1,000 laymen to its youth training centres in Nakhon Ratchasima and Lop Buri.

The situation had changed since the temple opened its evacuation centre on Thursday, he said. After the Rapeepat water gates opened, the water level increased and was now only 30 centimetres below the top of the dyke. Temple authorities had also told people who parked their cars there to move them, as the temple might be flooded, he said.

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-- The Nation 2011-10-18

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10 more factories inundated in Pathum Thani

The Nation

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Raging torrents yesterday broke into an area of the Nava Nakorn Industrial Estate in Pathum Thani, submerging about 10 more factories.

As of press time, the government's Flood Relief Operation Centre (FROC) confirmed that Phase 1 of Nava Nakorn Industrial Estate had been inundated, with the water level ranging between 1.5 and 2 metres.

Because flood water was also threatening to breach the flood barriers in other phases of the estate, all factories there were ordered to suspend operations and their workers to leave for evacuation centres immediately.

FROC spokesman Wim Rungwattanajinda, however, insisted that operations to save other parts of the estate would continue.

He said Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra had instructed the Army to erect another barrier to protect other parts of the industrial estate.

Helicopters were yesterday deployed in placing containers at spots needed to stop the raging flood water from causing more havoc.

Yingluck said the government would consider remedial measures for affected businesses, and blamed heavy rainfall for the crumbling floodwall at the estate.

"We had prepared to deal with run-off water and the high tide, but there was a cloudburst, too. With so much water, the torrents proved too powerful for the floodwall to defend," she said.

However, the prime minister said she had assigned the military to ensure that all floodwalls along the capital's shared borders with other provinces were strong enough.

"We will do our best to protect Thailand's capital," Yingluck said, urging everyone to cooperate with officials in the flood-prevention efforts.

The 24/7 Emergency Operations Centre for Flood, Storm and Landslide said the severe flooding continued to wreak havoc in 27 provinces.

As of yesterday, the flood-related death toll had risen to 307, with at least three others reported missing.

Deputy national police commissioner General Pongsapat Pongcharoen assured people that police would keep an eye on their flooded homes if they had to leave the properties.

He made the statement after many flood victims continued to refuse to leave their seriously inundated homes out of concern over theft.

"We will protect your belongings," he said.

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-- The Nation 2011-10-18

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Ayutthaya sites will be drained as soon as risk over

The Nation

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The procedure of draining historic sites in Ayutthaya will begin as soon as there are no threats of further inundation, Culture Minister Sukumol Kunplome said yesterday.

The areas under focus are Wat Chai Watthanaram and 1,810-rai palace compound that has been named a World Heritage Site, she said. "The ministry will not wait until the floods have completely receded, but will take action as soon as there is proof that there will be no more strong currents and peak tides," she added.

Sukumol said HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn had expressed concern about the welfare of people living in the area, "especially in terms of there not being enough food or it not being extensively distributed".

So far, there are 220 heritage sites under water, including 97 in Ayutthaya and another 34 in Chiang Mai.

Meanwhile, monks left stranded in flooded temples are seeking food, medication, boats, sandbags and fuel to run the pumps they have been given, she said. Donors can deposit contributions in account number 059-1-29006-5, Krung Thai Bank, Education Ministry branch.

Customs gate opened for estates

The Flood Relief Operations Centre yesterday instructed the Customs Department to open the temporary customs service point at Bangkok's Don Mueang Airport's Terminal 1 Gate 5 for flood-affected business operators. From today, the Hitech Industrial Estate and Bang Pa-in Industrial Estate in Ayutthaya can use the gate until the flood situation is back to normal. For details, call (02) 535 1569.

Netherlands to share flood expertise

The Netherlands is ready to share its expertise in flood and water management so Thailand can be better equipped to handle floods in the future, Dutch Ambassador to Thailand Joan Boer.

"[We're] willing to share the expertise," Boer told The Nation yesterday. However, he said, the Thai society should collectively push for comprehensive flood prevention measures, and the government as well as every citizen should have a sense of shared responsibility.

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-- The Nation 2011-10-18

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