Asia

Floods Kill 23 in Thailand, 30 in Cambodia, as More Storms Loom

By The Associated Press 2 October 2013

BANGKOK / PHNOM PENH — Thai authorities said Tuesday that floods have killed more than 20 people and affected areas across the country over the past two weeks, though experts say there is little risk of a repeat of the devastation that occurred during record floods two years ago.

Thirty-two out of 77 provinces have experienced flooding since mid-September and 23 people have been killed, the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department said in a report, adding that 25 provinces still have flooding.

It said more than 2.8 million people were affected by the floodwaters and 15,254 had been evacuated from their homes.

Deputy Prime Minister Plodprasop Suraswadi said Thailand was not at risk from the remnants of Tropical Storm Wutip, which reached the northeast on Tuesday. However, he said the country should be ready for other storms.

In 2011, Thailand suffered its worst flooding in half a century. More than 800 people were killed and 6 million hectares (14.8 million acres) of agricultural, industrial and residential lands were devastated. Many of the country’s industrial estates, which export electronic parts, auto parts and hard disk drives, were swamped, as were large parts of Bangkok.

Authorities have downplayed concerns of a repeat.

“Thanks to the dredging of the canals and the weather, at this point there is nothing to panic about,” Bangkok Gov. Sukhumbhand Paribatra tweeted Monday night. “Currently the water level in the Chao Phraya River is still low, so there’s nothing to worry.”

Experts also say it is unlikely the capital will see major flooding this year.

“It is not worrisome as the situation is very different from 2011,” said Seree Supratid, the director of a climate and disaster center at Bangkok’s Rangsit University.

In Cambodia, at least 30 people have died in recent floods caused by heavy rains and the Mekong River overflowing its banks, a disaster relief official said Monday.

Keo Vy of Cambodia’s disaster management committee the floods have also forced more than 9,000 families to flee their homes and destroyed nearly 100,000 hectares (247,000 acres) of rice fields.

He added that nearly 67,000 houses were damaged or submerged, as well as 513 schools, 300 Buddhist pagodas and 25 health centers. Nine of the country’s 24 provinces have been affected so far, he said.

Four people died Sunday night when their car drove into a flooded pond in the eastern province of Prey Veng, police said.

The government warned that the rains will continue as Typhoon Wutip headed toward neighboring Vietnam late Monday.

In central Vietnam, people repaired homes and dragged away trees that were uprooted when Wutip slammed into the coastline. Two men were killed when a radio station antenna tower fell on them, Vietnam’s disaster agency said. Another man was killed when a wall collapsed. Close to 100,000 homes were damaged.

Chinese authorities say Wutip, which means butterfly in Cantonese, sank three Chinese fishing vessels Sunday in the South China Sea.

On Monday, 14 people were rescued, leaving 58 still believed to be missing, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. It said 22 boats and four airplanes were combing the area for survivors.

Wutip was the strongest storm to hit Vietnam this year. It had weakened from a typhoon by the time it hit land with sustained winds of 117 kilometers (73 miles) per hour, Vietnam’s weather center said.

The most powerful Asian storm this year was Typhoon Usagi, which caused at least 33 deaths in the Philippines and China in September.

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