BANGKOK — Thirty provinces, many already struck by disaster, are at risk of flash floods and landslides through the weekend, disaster officials warned Thursday, while the death toll from the current crisis rose to 23.
While authorities said Wednesday they expected the crisis in Sakon Nakhon province to be over by Friday, the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation announced today forecast another round of heavy rain hitting the north, east, northeast and southwest regions Friday to Sunday.
The ongoing crisis has affected more than 1.2 million people in 44 provinces. The confirmed death toll doubled this morning to 23 people killed, according to Director-General Chatchai Phromlert. Two people are missing.
While the government blamed the flash floods one week ago on a powerful tropical storm, it has come under stiff criticism for its performance in handling the disaster. Neither flash flood warnings nor life-saving evacuation orders were issued beforehand.
On a Wednesday visit to Sakon Nakhon, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha visited the Huai Sai reservoir, which was being repaired after an embankment collapsed during the storm. Photos of the breached earthen embankment widely circulated online led many to assume it sent the water that rushed without warning into Sakon Nakhon city.
Niphon Mungkonkeaw, the director of provincial irrigation, said Saturday the 1 million cubic meters of water suddenly poured out after 20 meters of embankment were washed away.
Prayuth dismissed suggestions that infrastructure failure was to blame on Tuesday, saying it was “nonsensical” to worry about placing blame for the crisis.
“It needs to be understood that this was an unusual circumstance,” he said Tuesday. “It’s not that the dam was broken, and so the water flooded. It is flooding everywhere, including the dam, water goes to the lower ground first .”
Repairs to the Huai Sai reservoir are expected to be complete by Aug.12.
Days after being criticized for not visiting the affected area, Prayuth yesterday joined the clean-up effort and visited people who had been evacuated from their homes.
His weekly televised address Friday night will be used for a telethon to call for the public to make donations at the Government House.
That invited criticism from transparency advocate Srisuwan Janya, who said the government didn’t need to put out its hand, as it already has nearly 200,000 billion baht earmarked for emergencies.
Residents in 30 provinces are advised to listen closely to forecasts and warnings during the next three days.
That includes 12 provinces in the northeast: Sakon Nakhon, Roi Et, Khon Kaen, Kalasin, Ubon Ratchathani, Udon Thani, Nong Bua Lam Phu, Nong Khai, Bueng Kan, Nakhon Phanom, Yasothon and Sisaket.
Ten provinces in the north: Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son, Lamphun, Lampang, Phrae, Uttaradit, Sukhothai, Phitsanulok and Phetchabun.
In the east, Chonburi, Rayong, Chanthaburi and Trat provinces are also on alert, while the southern provinces of Ranong, Phang-Nga, Phuket and Krabi were also told to beware flash flooding and landslides caused by heavy rain.
Bangkok will experience moderate to heavy rainfall through Wednesday.