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Cabinet orders a flood holidays

posted Oct 26, 2011, 3:17 AM by Dong Travel   [ updated Oct 26, 2011, 3:17 AM by Mickey Dong Hoang Thinh ]
The Thai Cabinet on Tuesday declared Thursday 27 October through to Monday 31 October an extra holidays in 21 provinces including Bangkok to allow residents to deal with heighten flood risks during the weekend high tides.

The extra holidays will free up office workers and government workers to concentrate on flood emergency measures as the capital faces two immediate threats; high tides 28 to 31 October and more flood water running off from flooded towns and paddy fields in the central plains.

The high tides begin today and will continue until 31 October with the sea level rising to 2.65 metres.

The 21 provinces are: Sukhothai, Phichit, Phitsanulok, Nakhon Sawan, Uthai Thani, Chai Nat, Sing Buri, Ang Thong, Ayutthaya, Pathum Thani, Nonthaburi, Lop Buri, Saraburi, Nakhon Nayok, Prachin Buri, Chachoengsao, Suphan Buri, Nakhon Pathom, Kamphaeng Phet, Tak and Bangkok.

The holiday is limited to flood hit provinces and Bangkok.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said, yesterday evening, that low lying areas in the city would suffer flooding of around 50 cm deep. But that depends on the success of measures to channel floods away from inner Bangkok.

She said water is being drained into Tha Chin and Chao Phraya Rivers to prevent the water level in Klong Maha Sawat rising.

The sluice gate in Klong Prem Prachakon will be closed to lower the level of water going into Klong Rangsit Prayurasakdi and Klong Hok Wa.

This should relieve flooding in Don Mueang, Lak Si, Sai Mai and inner districts of Bangkok. The Prime Minister points out that if all goes as planned, the inundation in city suburbs should not exceed 50 cm.

However, even as she spoke, Don Mueang and Rangsit districts were already heavily flooded. Dykes at along Rangsit canal were breached and areas within Muang Ake next to the canal were flooded. Around 1,500 soldiers are working around the clock to save the Rangsit canal barrier. Leaks are springing everywhere in barriers around housing estates and the canal. The entire northern suburbs of Bangkok are now flooded.

Meanwhile, Min Buri, Nong Chok and Lad Krabang, east of downtown Bangkok will suffer flooding of 1 to1.5 meters deep.

Prime Minister Yingluck said if the plan failed, Bangkok could flood to depths up to 1.5 meters in some districts for two to four weeks.

The latest reports indicate floods have brought traffic almost to a standstill on Vibhavadi Rangsit Highway and Phaholyothin Road around Laksi and Saphan Mai areas.

The water level has reached 30 cm and is overflowing on sidewalks. The highway’s left traffic lane is impassable for small vehicles. Traffic is now heavily congested.

In northwest districts, Bangphlat, Charansanitwong Road from Bangphlat intersection to the Rama VII Bridge is rising after the flood barrier in Soi Charansanitwong 80 at the Chao Phraya River was breached on Monday and floodwater from adjacent Nonthaburi’s Bang Kruai district overflowed to Charansanitwong Road.

The highest water level is 1.50 metres at the junction of Soi Charansanitwong 84 with the main road,making it impossible for small vehicles to pass. Local residents have been evacuated by military trucks.

The run-off also caused Don Mueang Airport to close until 1 November.

Don Mueang Airport director, Group Captain Kantpat Mangalasiri, said Don Mueang Airport was forced to close the runways from 1400 Tuesday to 1700 on 1 November 2011 due to the flood crisis.

However, Suvarnabhumi Airport is still operating and Prime Minister Yingluck remained confident that the major gateway will not be flooded.

Normally, 160 daily flights operate from Don Mueang Airport, mainly two airlines, Nok Air and Orient Thai Airlines. Thailand’s budget carrier Nok Air announced suspension of all flight services as water flowed into the northern area of the airport and has now reached critical operational areas include buildings where the airport’s electronic control systems are housed.

Nok Air halted flight operations since Tuesday noon, with afternoon flights diverted to Suvarnabhumi Airport, according to Nok Air chief executive officer Patee Sarasin.

Mr Patee said the airline should be able to resume operating flights 1 November. Due to the suspension, Mr Patee said Nok Air passengers could reschedule their tickets.

Nok Air operates approximately 53 flights a day.

Orient Thai Airlines divertes its domestic flights from Don Mueang Airport to Suvarnabhumi Airport at 1500 yesterday. Meanwhile, Solar Air, another domestic airline based in Don Mueang has shifted its operations to U-Tapao airport near Pattaya.

National flag carrier Thai Airways is still operating normally out of Suvarnabhumi airport, but it is closely monitoring the flood situation, according to THAI’s Crisis Management & Operations Centre director Samat Poom-on. The airline has an emergency plan B in place, which would transfer all flights to six airports around the country and two emergency airports such as U-Tapao if the situation became extremely critical.

To be on the safe side, the airline moved ground service equipment to U-Tapao Airport in the eastern province of Chon Buri as a precaution.

Due to the suspension of Nok Air and Orient Thai flights there are now 12 tourist destinations that are inaccessible to tourists. They are: Phitsanulok; Nakhon Si Thammarat; Narathiwat; Sakon Nakhon; Nakhon Phanom; Buri Ram; Nan; Roi Et; Loei; Mae Sot; Phrae; and Trat.

Since late July, flood have affected 62 provinces across the country which now 26 provinces still inundated resulting 373 deaths.

Another flood casualty is the Chiang Mai’s international horticulture expo known as the Royal Flora Ratchaphruek which will now be postponed for another month. It was supposed to open 9 November but that has now been postponed to 16 December.

Agriculture Department general director, Jirakorn Kosaisewee said: “ The fair has to be delayed as the flood situation remains critical. Several transport routes have been damaged by floods, and people are not in the mood to travel.”

The rescheduled flora fair will take place, 14 December 2011 to 14 March 2012 instead of 9 November 2011 to 15 February 2012.

Exhibitions at Impact exhibition complex in Muang Thong Thani have been cancelled while hotels along both sides of the Chao Phraya River will face a serious flood threat over the next few days.

Source: TTRW