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Thu, Nov 04, 2010
The Nation/Asia News Network
Flood waters in Hat Yai receding but big challenges ahead

The flood-water level in hardest-hit Hat Yai district in Songkhla has subsided, but the enormous task of relieving affected residents of their hardship lies ahead.

In a 24-hour stretch, eight to 10 people are reported to have drowned, including an official with a local administrative body in Chana district who went missing on Tuesday after going out on a relief mission.

The body of the unnamed official was retrieved yesterday, not far from where his boat capsized.

Law and order have been largely maintained, with constant patrols by police and volunteers, but minor looting was reported and caught on camera after a few similar incidents took place earlier.

Meanwhile, residents have begun buying and stockpiling rations and household supplies now that they can travel and a number of shops have reopened.

There are no reports about hoarding of essential supplies.

There was, however, a murder reported in Phatthalung's Bang Kaew district, where an assistant village head allegedly shot dead a man who gave away a package of instant noodles as part of communal relief supplies to a child without permission.

Bunchern Sukraj is on the run after he allegedly killed Bunthip Chimniam.

The flood water level in Kim Yong and Santisuk markets in downtown Hat Yai decreased to 50 centimetres overnight on Tuesday from the reported peak of two-three metres.

The average flood level in the entire urban area was 1.5 metres last night.

Mayor Phrai Phatthano estimated that the damage sustained by Hat Yai amounted to Bt10 billion (S$432 million).

However, everything should return to normal in the next few days if there is no more rain.

Deputy Interior Minister Thaworn Senniam said floodwater should be drained out of Songkhla province within seven days and that it should take two months to complete repairs and restoration work.

The Prince of Songkhla University compound has been packed with people seeking help during the crisis, as it served as both a rally and a pick-up point for relief supplies, and its hospital as a medical service centre.

Electricity is now available in certain areas except Kim Yong market and adjacent areas and mobile-phone operators are fixing their infrastructure to make signals available in the same coverage areas as before the floods hit.

Relief supplies have been distributed to residents throughout flooded areas, through relief agencies, volunteer groups and teams of celebrities.

Jet-skis have been used to reach homes in crowded residential areas or in shallow water where large boats could not travel.

The Army has dispatched a 10,000-strong relief force, comprising 600 trucks, 200 flat-bottom boats and 30 mobile military medical teams to the South to supplement relief efforts being provided by Army units based in the region.

Somdej Phra Borommarachini-nat Hospital in Na Thawee district has been so badly damaged that it has suspended all medical services for three days beginning today, and all 92 villages in the district is still affected by flooding, the district office said.

In Chumphon, a Burmese boy drowned when his house was engulfed by floods.

Six of the province's eight districts have been flooded and declared disaster zones.

The official damage report by the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation said the floods in the South had affected 292,744 people in 79,902 households in 10 provinces.

A weather report said the storms had changed direction towards Cambodia and Vietnam but would still cause heavy rain in coastal provinces on the Gulf of Thailand.

Residents living by canals or in low-lying areas are advised to stay alert for flash floods.

The government's war room on flood relief said 15,000 boats of all kinds had been mobilised and dispatched to affected areas in the South, while another 11,000 survival kits from the government had been distributed. -The Nation/ANN

Read Also:
»Hat Yai reeling
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