Relief workers swamped by flood ‘worse than 2000’; 7 other provinces in South also battling storm disaster
Despite relief efforts pouring in, heavily flooded Hat Yai district in Songkhla province remains in crisis, with high flood waters in urban areas and widespread effects reported in the outskirts.
A large number of residents were stuck in their flooded homes, as reported in news coverage or relayed messages for help via Facebook and Twitter, with tap water, electricity and land-line telephones cut off. In one case a woman in labour was trapped in her home and could not get to a hospital.
Nearly 600 patients, including 15 in intensive care, have been evacuated from Hat Yai Hospital to Prince Songkhla Hospital by a joint Naval and Army operation, a government flood relief centre said. Many residents refuse to be evacuated, citing worries over their belongings, including theft.
The Information and Communications Technology Ministry reported damage to 80 of its 200 towers after generators attached to them were flooded. A number of mobile satellite signal units have been sent to the area to bridge the missing links and normal mobile service was expected by yesterday evening.
The volume of flood water volume streaming into the business district has reached 250 million cubic metres, a record volume overtaking those documented in 1988 and 2000 and the worst in 70 years, according to the Royal Irrigation Department.
There have been no official figures on flood damage but an initial estimate, from Hat Yai Mayor Phrai Phatthana, cited 80 per cent of urban areas and 30,000 households affected, and 10,000 residents stranded in their homes.
A large number of cars were stuck on bridges after the flood water reached too high a level for them to go through. Many cars parked in lower sections of the bridges were inundated.
Phrai told The Nation that food shortages would be commonplace for another day and the electricity would not be available up to tonight. About 300 guests remained trapped in the Lee Garden Hotel with food supplies running out.
In tambon Khuan Lang, 400 students were trapped in a boarding school, all of them moved up to the second floors of the buildings to stay above the 2-metre flood level. About 20 staff were trapped in Diana Mall, saying they would need food supplies from today onwards.
A weather report said the storms that ravaged Songkhla had moved on to the Andaman Sea, but would still cause heavy rain in all provinces in the South from Chumphon down. Besides Songkhla, the floods are spreading to seven other provinces: Phatthalung, Surat Thani, Pattani, Satun, Trang, Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani.
Her Majesty the Queen has graciously granted rations and supplies stocked at the Thaksin Ratchaniwet Palace in Narathiwat province to be delivered to flood victims, at the initiative of His Majesty. The supplies have been packed in 5,000 survival kits for distribution.
The provincial irrigation office said flood water should subside in Hat Yai urban areas within two or three days if drainage aided by 16 large pumps continued at the current rate. But areas close to Rama I and U Tapao canals require more time because they were swollen to a high level, the agency said.