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News : Ketsana floods wash thousands out of homes, worse on way  


Bangkok Post :

Many provinces remained submerged yesterday as humanitarian aid trickled to thousands of marooned and homeless residents left uprooted by the heavy downpours of Typhoon Ketsana.

The North and the Northeast are the worst-hit areas after a weekend of heavy rain with thousands of houses and thousands of rai of farmland flooded.

Affected families have been living on relief supplies.

Ketsana's lingering effects were most widespread in the northern province of Tak, where about 1,700 families in nine villages in tambon Mae Tuen of Mae Ramat district were cut off from the outside world after a bridge collapsed, preventing troops from reaching them with emergency help.

Many provinces in the north, northeastern and southern regions have experienced flooding after heavy rains.

Despite official efforts to pump out floodwater from the affected areas, the water levels in some areas are not receding but are actually rising, and rains show no signs of letting up, officials said yesterday.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has told agencies to rush relief aid to victims in hard-hit provinces.

He plans to visit the worst-hit areas to give moral support and make sure help is reaching the affected people.

The prime minister has ordered irrigation officials to monitor water levels in the dams and reservoirs as they could overflow as weather conditions are expected to worsen in the next few days.

Mr Abhisit said Thailand was also sending aid to the Philippines and Indonesia, which were heavily hit by the typhoon and an earthquake.

Rice, medical supplies and electricity generators has been flown to Indonesia and would be sent to the Philippines as well, he said.

In Tak, where residents were cut off from the outside world, the bridge over the Mae Tuen River collapsed under the force of the flash flood. It is the main transport route out of the tambon.

A temporary bridge could not be built immediately due to the high water level of the river, leaving the military rescue teams unable to get into the flooded villages to extend help.

In Sam Ngao district, about 400 houses were submerged after the Wang River burst its banks. Residents and farm animals have been either evacuated or moved to higher ground.

In the northeastern province of Chaiyaphum, motorists were yesterday warned about possible landslides along the Nakhon Sawan-Chaiyaphum Road.

About 500 houses in Phakdi Chumphon district and another 1,000 in Kaset Sombun and Phu Khieo districts were flooded. In some areas, the water is three metres high.

The overflowing Lam Pa Thao Dam has flooded Muang district where the floodwater in some spots is almost half a metre deep.

Residents of the central province of Ayutthaya are also assessing the flood damage to their houses and land.

About 1,000 homes require extensive repair work as a result of flooding in the rice-producing district of Sena.

In Phetchabun, more than 5,000 rai of farmland in Nong Phai district has been swamped.

Meanwhile, 13 Thai crew members who survived after their fishing boat capsized in Malaysian waters on Friday returned to Pattani yesterday.

Another 13 are still missing.

According to reports, waves as high as three to five metres hit the boat, the Pornpitsanu 91, which had 26 crewmen on board when it had left Pattani to receive fish from another trawler anchored in Malaysian waters. BANGKOK POST AND TNA

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