Forest floods have engulfed several homes in two tambon in Si Chon district, stranding a large number of residents and leading many others to be evacuated. A number of villages have been isolated without electricity after 80-cm-high flood water covered a major road.
Nop Phitam district, hit again by flash floods, which killed many in 2010, has also been isolated after more flash flooding damaged a main bridge. Villagers escaping from tambon Krung Ching reported mudslides and falling rocks, which damaged their homes but caused no casualties.
At a waterfall in Lan Saka district, 70 tourists have been stranded by forest floods and were being rescued at press time. Disaster status has now been declared in three districts - Nopphitam, Si Chon and Tha Sala - out of 23.
In Phatthalung, residents in six districts: Tamot, Kong Ra, Sri Nagarindra, Si Banphot, Pa Phayom and Pa Bon, all adjacent to Banthad mountain range, have been advised to brace for possible mudslides, and forest and flash floods. Local relief authorities said more than 12,000 families in 162 villages have been affected and 220,000 rai of farmland submerged or damaged.
Krabi boats wrecked
Twenty-eight passenger boats docked off the coast of Krabi at Ao Nang, Khlong Haeng and Nam Mao bays capsized yesterday in high seas, causing around Bt1 million in property damage to owners. Tidal waves and storms began hitting the shore at 4 am yesterday, overturning the vessels, most of which have not been salvaged.
Songkhla remains heavily flooded, with the highest level of 2 metres at a new location - Fasai housing estate in Hat Yai, although the peak inundation is believed to have passed. A main road heading to Hat Yai airport is under 70cm of floodwater.
Currents in major canals in Hat Yai, connecting waterways from outer areas with sea outlets, are peaking, including Poh Mor canal in urban areas of the business district.
Provincial governor Krissada Bunraj said dredging of U Taphao canal was necessary, based on His Majesty's suggestion in 1988 during a flood. Although it might cost Bt1 billion, the dredging could potentially save the business operations and prevent a Bt10 billion loss in revenue.
Krissada said a request for this budget for the dredging had been submitted to the government, with HM the King’s advice attached to it.
The flood in Hat Yai and Songkhla, which borders Malaysia, has also affected tourism, with a room occupancy rate of only 15 to 20 per cent, from a total of 20,000 rooms, said Somchart Phimthana-phoonphorn, head of the hotel association in Hat Yai-Songkhla.
Public relations campaigns are being planned and will soon advise Thai and foreign tourists that the current flood situation is not as serious as the year before, he added.
Surat Thani took the first flood hit on Monday night, with three tambons in Kanchanadit district submerged, and many key roads now under 80 cm of flood water, leaving 300 households isolated.
The floods also blocked a section of Route 41 in Chumphon’s Lang Suan district, covering it with up to 80 cm of water. Other key submerged roads are Route 401 (Surat-Nakhon Si Thammarat), a Route 4 section from km markers 149-151. The flooded roads are still passable but require reserved lanes to keep traffic flow at a minimum
They were in urgent need of about 369,000 quilt blankets, 45,000 acrylic blankets, and 60,000 winter jackets.
After Om Koi and Samoeng districts were declared disaster zones and some 4,000 blankets were distributed to the affected, the province yesterday declared Fang, Chom Thong, Kalayaniwattana and Mae Ai districts as disaster zones. It would initially allocate Bt1 million to each district to buy winter clothing for the affected residents. He said the province might declare Hot district as a disaster zone next week if the temperature continued to drop.
In Chumphon, waves ravaged hundreds of houses and strong winds uprooted many trees. Some local fishermen lost contact with others after sea conditions turned hostile.
Acting on behalf of Lang Suan district chief, senior assistant district officer Apinya Khondee ordered the evacuation of affected people.
Elsewhere, the big waves and strong winds also caused panic.
"I've never seen such big waves before," said Fon Yangnoi, a 60-year-old resident in Prachuap Khiri Khan's Sam Roi Yot district.
He was speaking after the waves, between two and four metres high, ravaged seaside restaurants and shops along the coastline.
"The waves were so high and the winds were so strong that they were frightening," Hua Hin Beach Shop Club chairwoman Somprapa Morakan said.
She said she had already instructed shop-owners to move their stuff out of their seaside structures as a precaution. "It has been forecast that the rough weather conditions will continue for a few more days," Somprapa said.
She said the shops would be closed until the weather conditions returned to normal. Her club has overseen shops stretching along the Hua Hin beach from the Hilton Hotel to the Sofitel Hotel.
Wanchai Iam-udom, a 62-year-old fisherman, was convinced that the waves were the highest in the province since Typhoon Gay hit more than two decades ago.
"It's dreadful because the waves have already broke three small fishing trawlers," he said.
Jim Daeng Restaurant owner Krissana Yoojan said the waves crashed onto the shore and damaged her place.
"The electrical appliances were submerged and ruined," she moaned.
The Meteorological Department had warned in advance that the sea would be rough in the Gulf of Thailand.
"We don't know why it has happened. Never before has seawater flooded our homes," Jirapat Poonsem said. He is a local resident of Khao Takiab Village in Prachuap Khiri Khan.
Local resorts have reported adverse impacts from the big waves, too.
Prachaup Khiri Khan Governor Weera Sriwattanatrakoon said he had already inspected the damage caused by the waves.
"People living along the 220km coastline in Prachuap Khiri Khan should be on alert and stay abreast of weather news," he said.
He warned tourists against playing in the sea. However, he said tourists could still come and visit the province as usual.
"We have an early-warning system in place," he said.
Pinnart Jarernphon, who heads the Tourism Authority of Thailand's Prachuap Khiri Khan branch, said the conditions would be rough for just a few days.
"There's no need to panic," she said. "It's just a natural phenomenon."
Fon of the Prachuap Khiri Khan, however, was really worried. "My parents told me Nature would punish human beings for damaging the natural environment. That's why we are seeing deadly disasters like flooding, earthquake and tsunami."
Locals in Nakhon Si Thammarat and Pattani also reported yesterday that high waves had been threatening their homes.
On December 26, 2004, giant tidal waves hit Thailand's coast for the first time, killing thousands of people and shocking the whole country.
Many events will take place today in the tsunami-hit provinces to commemorate that tragedy. A seminar on disaster-preparedness will be held in Phuket