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Thailand Live Friday 21 Oct 2011

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Thailand Live Friday 21 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 Thursday 20 Oct 2011

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Pathum Thani deluge 'out of control'

The Nation

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Floodwalls overwhelmed by massive flows racing towards capital, official says

Admitting that the Pathum Thani flood situation was out of control, the Northern Rangsit Irrigation Office predicted yesterday that Bangkok would be inundated.

Office executive Chuchat Supawatthanangkul said the water flowing through Rapeepat Canal had destroyed several parts of the floodwall along Klong Luang district's Canals 1 to 5. Flowing at 70 cubic metres per second, this water would inundate Klong Luang and Thanyaburi districts, run through the Rangsit Prasertsak Canal and certainly flood Bangkok, he said.

Around noon yesterday, a 3metrelong section of floodwall along the Rangsit Canal at Chulalongkorn sluice gate near Rangsit market collapsed, but officials repaired it as residents were evacuated. As water levels rose, people guarded floodwalls while others strengthened them with sandbags.

At Pathum Thani correctional institution by Canal 5, 500 female inmates were evacuated, but 1,500 male prisoners remained because there was no place to hold them. They tried to pump out flood water seeping into the building, which is protected by a 3metrehigh floodwall.

Public Health Minister Witthaya Buranasiri said his ministry had dispatched officials by boat to help chronic patients, people with disabilities, pregnant women and ailing seniors trapped in flooded homes in Nonthaburi and Pathum Thani.

In Nonthaburi alone, there were 300 patients, but only 100 have been rescued so far. Hospitals have reserved beds to support another 200 chronically ill patients. Others from these groups should call 1669 around the clock for help.

Thammasat University Rangsit Campus executive Prinya Thaewanarumitkul, as director of the temporary shelter, said that even if flood waters there rose to 1.2 metres, brimming the sandbag barrier around the conference hall, the shelter would not be closed. The 1,800 evacuees on the ground floor would be moved to the gymnasium, which could support up to 5,000.

Floodhit Dream World Fun Park will be closed from today to October 31, while the Future Park Rangsit, Big C and HomePro malls in Thanyaburi district are closed indefinitely because of flooding of surrounding roads.

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-- The Nation 2011-10-21

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Cars parked on flyovers congest traffic

Suparat Iamtan

Supachai Sinprasert

The Nation

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Traffic in Bangkok was congested yesterday morning as the main waterworks canal overflowed in certain spots late on Wednesday and people living nearby moved their vehicles to elevated roads and flyovers.

The canal overflowed because of runoffs from Pathum Thani and flooded Prachachuen Road near Phongphet Intersection, and people decided to park their vehicles on flyovers and intersection bridges on Chaeng Wattana, Ratchayothin, Prachanukul, Wong Sawang, Sai Mai and Ram Inthra Roads as well as on the Kaset Intersection. Some parts of Prachachuen tollgate, Rama VII bridge, Srirat Expressway, Rama VI Expressway, Ram Inthra Expressway near Watcharaphon Intersection and the Thupatemee and Ratchavipha elevated roads were also turned to parking lots. Some of the bridges and elevated roads only had one lane free for motorists.

Due to this, authorities were unable to reach flooded areas or move heavy machinery to deal with the overflowing canal. To ease the congestion, traffic police also had to move vehicles blocking the first two lanes.

Metropolitan Police Bureau deputy commissioner Panu Kerdlarppol, who oversees the trafficcontrol department, said people whose vehicles had to be moved would be fined between Bt500 and Bt1,000, adding that they should contact traffic police and rescue workers if they are unable to find their cars.

Panu said the situation in Bangkok was not at crisis level yet and the police would not allow motorists to violate the law.

Meanwhile, The Mall Ngamwongwan, which is near the waterworks canal, will offer free parking space if the area is flooded, said the manager of The Mall Group, Pilaiwan Hongsakul.

She added that the shopping mall had previously provided parking space for more than 1,000 cars from floodaffected areas in Nonthaburi's Bang Bua Thong and Pak Kret districts. However, she added that they would check whether the people who wanted to park their cars at the shopping centre were really from floodhit areas.

Traffic police have taken measures to deal with possible emergencies, Panu said, adding that police stations had been told to set up trafficmanagement plans and choose roads that would be suitable for evacuation. He has also asked the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority to provide public buses for evacuation operations.

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-- The Nation 2011-10-21

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Free antiviral medicine available

The Nation

Floodaffected HIV/Aids patients can get antiviral medicine at all state hospitals free of charge.

Since this antiviral drug needs to be consumed regularly and many hospitals have been forced to close due to floods, Public Health Minister Witthaya Buranasiri has instructed the National Health Security Office (NHSO) to solve this problem. Henceforth, people living with HIV/Aids can get antiviral medication from any staterun hospital, NHSO chief Dr Winai Sawasdivorn said, adding that patients should bring along old antiviral medicine bottles for convenience in correctly prescribing the medication.

Call 1330 round the clock for details.

Meanwhile, networks for people living with HIV/Aids say that so far nobody has had problems getting the antiviral drug though there have been problems with transport in Ayutthaya and Nakhon Sawan.

Affected patients can call (02) 372 2222 for help.

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-- The Nation 2011-10-21

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Chao Phraya levels stable

The Nation

Water levels in lower Chao Phraya River were stable, as floods are subsiding in some areas.

The Water Analysis Centre said yesterday that the river in Nakhon Sawan was moving at the rate of 4,452 cubic metres per second - 72 cubic metres less than the previous day, while in Chai Nat it was stable at 3,610 cubic metres. The river in Sing Buri was at 2,910 cubic metres, Angthong 2,656 cubic metres and Ayutthaya's Bang Sai district 3,755 cubic metres - all slightly less than the previous day. Though water is still being retained in lowlying areas, the situation in Sing Buri, Angthong and Ayutthaya would remain stable and even improve provided there is no heavy rainfall, the centre said.

Meanwhile, the metredeep flood in Nakhon Sawan is getting contaminated, prompting officials to throw in EM balls to disinfect it. Since all flood barriers are fixed and pumps are continuously draining water out of the municipality area, things are expected to be back to normal in three weeks. The area's water level is now going down by 30cm per day.

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-- The Nation 2011-10-21

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Travel warning from Taipei; US gives Bt15m

The Nation

Taiwan is urging travellers to postpone their visits to Thailand temporarily, while the United States has given Thailand Bt15 million in aid.

While presiding over a mass wedding in Chiang Mai yesterday, director of Tourism Authority of Thailand for Taipei, Kittika Likhitwasinkul, said Taiwanese authorities had been told that the flooding had not hit all provinces. She said that though some tourists might decide not to visit, so far nobody had cancelled any Loy Krathong tour packages to Sukhothai, Tak and Chiang Mai.

Meanwhile, US Ambassador Kristie Kenney presented Bt15 million to the Flood Relief Operations Centre yesterday, saying that her country would stand by and help Thailand.

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-- The Nation 2011-10-21

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Inmates to help build flood barriers around Bangkok

The Nation

Hundreds of prison inmates have been sent out to help exhausted state workers and soldiers build more flood barriers to protect the capital, a senior Corrections Department official said yesterday.

About 500 convicts from prisons in Bangkok and neighbouring provinces were recruited to help strengthen the city's temporary dykes, said Thanis Sriyaphan, the department's deputy directorgeneral.

He added that he would accompany about 300 prisoners today to help build barriers around Suvarnabhumi Airport because there is a severe shortage of manpower for the job.

The official said only prisoners with "good or excellent" records and those who only had a few months left in their prison terms would be allowed out of their cells to do the job. He added that none of the inmates allowed out to help make sandbags had escaped or caused any problems in the past.

Despite the severe flooding near prisons in Pathum Thani and Nonthaburi, the Corrections Department has no plans to evacuate the inmates there, Thanis said, adding that none of the prison compounds were flooded. "Moving a large number of convicts out of prison is a big job."

He said large complexes such as Bang Kwang Central Prison in Nonthaburi, which was severely flooded in 1983, have efficient floodprevention systems.

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-- The Nation 2011-10-21

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Runoff from Nava Nakorn rages through waterworks canal

The Nation

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Huge volumes of water from Pathum Thani raged into Bangkok via its main waterworks canal yesterday, as pumps worked hard to ensure that the water was pushed out fast enough to protect the capital from flooding.

"The runoff comes from the Nava Nakorn Industrial Estate [in Pathum Thani] and Thammasat University's Rangsit Campus," Flood Relief Operations Centre (FROC) director Pol General Pracha Promnok said.

He pointed out that the water was flowing through the canal used by the Metropolitan Waterworks Authority (MEA) to produce tap water into Samsen Canal. "From there we are pumping the water to Chao Phraya River," he said.

Some of the water is also being directed to the Makkasan Pond before it is pushed out to the river.

Sanya Sheenimit, chief of the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority's Department of Drainage and Sewerage, said the situation could be controlled if the runoff did not exceed 90 cubic metres per second.

Bangkok Governor MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra said the level of water in the waterworks canal was high because the MEA needed it to produce tap water.

However, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra reckoned the big problem of widespread flooding would manifest regardless.

"The runoffs from the North are really huge," she said.

Some Bangkok roads were reportedly flooded yesterday, as locals living along the waterworks canal were seen monitoring the water level all day, though some were also seen fishing.

At a press conference yesterday, MEA Governor Charoen Passara assured the public that the tap water provided by his agency was safe.

"Its quality is still in line with the drinkingwater standards prescribed by the World Health Organisation," he said, adding that the higher level of the canal had not yet affected people living along the canal. However, Charoen voiced concern about the barrier between the Rangsitprayoonsak and waterworks canals, saying, "we have to control the water level there".

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-- The Nation 2011-10-21

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