Emergency holidays declared as floodwaters creep into BangkokBy Garry | October 25th, 2011 | Category: Flood, News Reports | 2 comments
The Thai government cabinet on Tuesday decided to declare 27-28 and 31 October 2011 as official holidays in 21 flood-hit provinces, including Bangkok, so that people in flood-prone areas would be able to brace for the expected flooding of the capital’s central areas.
The 21 provinces are central Sukhothai, Phichit, Phitsanulok, Nakonsawan, Uthai Thani, Chai Nat, Singburi, Angthong, Ayutthaya, Pathum Thani, Nonthaburi, Lopburi, Saraburi, Nakhon Nayok, Prachin Buri, Chachoengsao, Suphanburi, Nakhon Pathom, Khampaengphet, Tak, and Bangkok provinces.
The holidays in the affected provinces are “compulsory” only for schools, businesses and government offices, which will shut on Thursday and Friday, plus the following Monday, creating a five-day break in the named provinces. Private enterprises have the option of giving employees the time off or not, in accord with Thailand’s Labor Protection Act that mandates staff must be given 13 of the 16 standing holiday days on the normal calendar.
“The cabinet today approved the declaration of October 27 through to 31 as holidays,” Pracha Promnog, head of the Flood Relief Operations Centre (FROC), said after ministers met to discuss the escalating crisis in Bangkok. Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra had earlier made a televised address warning residents along the Chao Phraya river to be on “full alert”, after it had reached record highs of of 2.30 metres (above normal) on Monday. “If the situation continues in these circumstances, the water level this weekend will hit 2.60 metres, while our average flood embankment is 2.50 metres high,” he said. The Thai central bank is still deciding whether to shut down financial markets as well.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s cabinet met north of the city centre at Don Mueang airport, which is doubling up as a shelter and a headquarters for the relief operation, but is already surrounded by water-logged roads.
Today however, water reached the end of the runways at Don Mueang and budget domestic airline Nok Air has announced all its flights in or out of Don Mueang are cancelled with effect from midday (local time) today. Instead, flights arriving into Bangkok will be diverted into Suvarnabhumi Airport before transferring to, and being parked at, U-Tapao International Airport near Chonburi. This will affect all of their 53 daily flights and last until at least 1st November, Mr Pathee Sarasin, Nok Air’s CEO has stated. Orient Thai Airline has also made a similar announcement.
In related news, the Tesco-Lotus superstore chain have announced that some stores in flooded areas have had to be closed due to lack of stocks. Ek-Chai Distribution System Co., Ltd. who operate Tesco-Lotus in Thailand, have stressed that the majority of their stores are unaffected. However online posters in discussion forums are claiming the chain’s Express mini stores as far north as Chiang Mai are being closed with empty shelves.
BREAKING NEWS – Announcements are being seen that a range of goods from drinking water to toilet tissue and basic building materials have been declared as controlled products. Torches, batteries, candles, water pumps and blankets are included on the list.
Three months of exceptionally heavy monsoon rains have hit the South East Asian Kingdom, killing over 360 people, swamping thousands of businesses and affecting over 12 million people. In total, it has been reported, 56 of Thailand’s 77 provinces have suffered prolonged flooding to some degree.