BANGKOK — Flash flooding and landslides are possible throughout the nation this week as torrential rains push water levels higher, disaster officials warned Tuesday.
Several provinces in the north and northeast are already flooded as bad weather conditions are still expected across both regions. The Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department today published a warning that 20 provinces are at risk of flood disaster due to high cumulative rainfall.
On the list are the northern provinces of Mae Hong Son, Chiang Rai, Nan and Tak. Mukdahan, Nakhon Phanom, Sakon Nakhon, Roi Et and Ubon Ratchathani are included in the northeast; as are the central provinces of Kanchanaburi, Phetchabun, Sa Kaeo, Rayong, Chanthaburi and Trat. In the south, the warning extends to Ranong, Phang Nga, Krabi, Trang and Satun provinces.
Chiang Rai and the six northeastern provinces of Mukdahan, Nakhon Phanom, Sakon Nakhon, Yasothon, Roi Et and Ubon Ratchathani were specifically warned of flash flooding as the Mekong River continues to rise due to heavy rainfall in northern and central Laos.
Last night, flash flooding in the northernmost Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai affected about 500 households. Many other districts have also been warned as the Mekong has risen substantially.
A mudslide in Nan province on Saturday killed a family of eight and forced more than 200 residents into temporary shelters.
The Mekong in Ubon Ratchathani yesterday was also swollen and has already submerged several communities along its banks. Officials said the water level has risen an average of 40 to 50 centimeters per day.
On Monday, a representative from the national power utility said the Vajiralongkorn Dam in Kanchanaburi province was at 78 percent capacity, its highest level in 34 years. The dams operated by the agency were built with high standards, the official stressed.
About 70 percent of the north and northeast will see thunderstorms for the rest of the week while less rain is forecast for the rest of the country through Saturday, according to the national weather agency.
With the rainy season comes seasonal anxiety about the capacity of the nation’s network of dams. Flooding usually peaks around October. The last time Bangkok flooded extensively was in 2011, causing billions of baht in damage.