Saturday, November 5, 2011

Protesters block sluice gate closure Deluge hits Chatuchak, moves closer to centre

The government's attempts to safeguard Lat Krabang and Bangchan industrial estates from the northern runoff were frustrated yesterday when more than 300 residents protested against the closure of Khlong 9 water gate in Pathum Thani's Lam Luk Ka district.
Floodwaters fill the Lat Phrao-Phahon Yothin intersection yesterday, closing the Central Plaza department store and raising fears that the deluge is approaching inner Bangkok. RATTASEEMAPONGSEN
The water gate closure was aimed at reducing the amount of water flowing downstream to Bangkok's Min Buri and Lat Krabang districts, where the two estates are situated.
Authorities, protected by troops, yesterday managed to close sluice gates at Khlong 8 and Khlong 10, but failed to close the Khlong 9 sluice gates as the number of protesters grew to 300.
The protesters blocked Lam Luk Ka Road to prevent authorities from entering the sluice gate.
They said the gate closure would worsen the flood situation in their locality, which has been inundated for weeks.
The rally continued until late at night.
Meanwhile, the northern runoff has reached Lat Phrao intersection in Chatuchak district, disrupting businesses, residents and the Flood Relief Operation Command (Froc) headquarters nearby.
The water level at the intersection was measured at 60cm at midday yesterday and appeared to be rising. Residents and employees had to wade through knee-high water to flee flooded homes and workplaces.
The floods also led to the closure of two out of three gates of the Phahon Yothin MRT station and might eventually lead to the complete closure of the station if the water rises to a critical level.
Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Yongyuth Wichaidit reiterated the Froc would not relocate again despite the floods at its new location.
The Froc moved from Don Mueang airport to the Energy Ministry's Energy Complex on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road on Oct 29, after floodwater rushed into the airport terminals.
Lat Phrao district chief Bophit Saengkaeo said part of Lat Phrao Road from Soi Lat Phrao-Wang Hin 87 to Lat Pla Khao Road was covered with about 30cm of floodwater.
However, the levels of floodwater in Senaniwes 1 and Senaniwes 2 housing estates and Wat Lat Pla Khao were measured at between 80cm to 1m.
Bangkok governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra yesterday announced an evacuation of these three areas.
After Lat Phrao, floodwater was expected to flow to Ratchadapisek Road and the wider Chatuchak area as the topography map shows that the two areas sit on low-lying zones, said Seri Supparathit, a Rangsit University expert on natural disasters.
Elsewhere in Bangkok, the deluge has expanded to larger areas in many districts.
In western Bangkok, the levels of floodwater on Phetkasem Road from Bang Kae district to Phasicharoen district rose by about 20cm yesterday from the previous day.
As the runoff was advancing towards the Tha Phra intersection, a stretch of Phetkasem Road running from Bang Kae Market to the Bang Kae branch of The Mall department store was covered with water between 30cm and 1m deep.
Public buses have stopped operating on this route and only military trucks could gain access to the area to transport the flood victims.
The floods have reached the entrance to Siam University, less than 1km from the Tha Phra intersection.
City Hall also issued a warning to monitor the rising water levels in Nong Khaem sub-district of Nong Khaem district.
In eastern Bangkok, the Sathira Dhammasathan dhamma centre on Ram Intra Road has already been inundated.
The water level outside the centre was about 20cm but inside the water was waist-deep.
The army was reinforcing the soldiers fighting against the floods in Bangkok with about 30 companies more of troops from the 2nd and 3rd Armies.