Pattaya Thailand declared disaster zone
Rescue workers use an inflatable boat to bring schoolchildren home from their flooded school in Rayong province
Encroachments prevent canals and channels from draining away water
PATTAYA Thailand: — THE severe flooding that has inundated Pattaya and much of Chon Buri’s Bang Lamung district in the wake of tropical storm Vamco was made worse by encroachment of public canals and waterway banks, the deputy mayor of Pattaya said yesterday.
Weerawat Khakhai said the heavy rains in the low-lying seaside resort contributed to the unusual flooding, but it was exacerbated by encroachment on waterways and canals such as Klong Nok Yang, Klong Kratinglai and Klong Na Kleu, which prevented the water from draining into the sea.
Meanwhile, the National Disaster Warning Centre (NDWC) yesterday warned 14 eastern and southern provinces of floods and landslides.
They were: Chanthaburi, Trat, Rayong, Chumphon, Ranong, Phang Nga, Phuket, Surat Thani, Krabi, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Trang, Phatthalung, Satun and Songkhla. Weerawat said water-draining channels were already struggling to keep up with the city’s expansion, he said, while garbage was also clogging the pipes.
The city was considering short-term solutions such as digging up the central and southern Pattaya footpath to let water pass through for fast drainage, he said. Officials were inspecting the damage to provide aid and the provincial governor would be consulted about the budget for compensating flood-hit people.
Overnight rain in Pattaya triggered floods that inundated homes and resorts while roads in Bang Lamung were badly hit, especially sections of highway No 331.
Government Spokesman Maj-General Sansern Kaewkamnerd said Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha had urged agencies to help affected people, especially those in Chon Buri as well as parts of the deeply flooded 7th motorway.
Tourism in Pattaya is expected to drop by 20-30 per cent this weekend due to the heavy rains, according to the Eastern Chapter of the Thai Hotels Association.
“Both foreigners and locals have cancelled their trips to Pattaya this weekend,” said Sanphet Suphabuansathien, regional president of the association. He added that all ferry operators between Pattaya and Koh Lan had suspended their services, while water and beach activities have ceased since Wednesday. But some indoor performances and show programmes have been unchanged.
The average hotel occupancy rate in Pattaya and nearby areas fell short of its estimated 60-70 per cent to 40-50 per cent.
Pattaya suffered an estimated 20-per-cent drop in tourists this year due to the reduced number of Russian arrivals.
The heavy rains also prompted the postponement of a military boat parade to mark the retirement of Royal Thai Navy Admiral Kraisorn Chansuvanich. It will now take place at Sattahip Base on Tuesday.
In Rayong’s Ban Chang district, Klong Pai Reservoir burst yesterday morning sending floodwater to sweep away at least 10 homes and inundate other houses in nearby Tambon Huai Yai in Chon Buri.
Many areas of Rayong province, including sections of highway No 3 and No 364, were also in deep water and impassable to small vehicles.
Residents in Muang district’s Tambon Thabma were forced to move their belongings away from flooded areas early yesterday morning.
Kwanjira Hassano, 43, said she and her neighbours couldn’t move their belongings out of rented houses fast enough so most of their items were lost in the flood.
Forest floods from Banthat Mountain Range inundated 70 homes and 500 rai of farmlands in Trang’s Na Yong and Muang districts.
Chumphon’s Pato district also saw Ban Nai Yan inundated and its famous raft tourist spot hit by forest floods that also nearly destroyed a bridge connecting the village to the outside world. Residents of Lang Suan district braced for more runoffs later last night.
In Surat Thani province, continuous downpours and high water levels of the Tapi River and connecting canals prompted the authorities to monitor for possible landslides, especially in Phanom district, where visitors were warned not to |visit risky areas of the Khao Sok National Park.
In Songkhla’s Muang district, more than 20 traditional fishing boats in Ban Kaoseng stayed ashore due to high waves and winds off the Gulf of Thailand.