Bangkok governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra has warned that the capital could be hit by floods tomorrow, as a large volume of northern runoff has been flowing into Khlong Rangsit, putting the north of the city at risk. This warning came a day after the government's flood relief operation command announced Bangkok should be safe from the deluge, with the much-feared mass of water runoff from the North having moved past the capital.
After hearing of the updated situation, MR Sukhumbhand staged an urgent press conference at 9:30pm last night to report that the torrent is expected to arrive in Don Muang and Sai Mai districts within 48 hours of his announcement. The government had alerted City Hall that they could no longer hold back the flood water and that they could not reduce the amount flowing into Khlong Rangsit, Khlong 8 and Khlong 9 in neighbouring Pathum Thani province.
This will result in a sharp rise in the waterways north of Bangkok, MR Sukhumbhand said. "Sai Mai district is at the frontline. Don Muang should be on high alert too," the governor said. In an attempt to safeguard northern Bangkok, MR Sukhumbhand said City Hall would find 1.2 million sandbags to increase the height of Khlong Hok Wa to about three metres. "We have another 48 hours to evaluate the situation," he said.
"So, don't panic but do prepare for possible flooding, for example by moving your belongings to higher ground." Earlier yesterday, MR Sukhumbhand expressed concern that floodwater could start to flow into the north of the capital. He said a dyke was being built along Khlong Hok Wa Canal to protect Sai Mai and Khlong Sam Wa districts. Workers together with soldiers and volunteers were raising a dyke along a 7km stretch of the canal by 50cm. City Hall will also raise a 1.25km section of Liap Khlong Song Road and a 1.5km section of Sai Mai Road by 30cm to keep floodwaters at bay.
The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has distributed 600,000 more sandbags to eastern districts, while the governor has appealed for more sand to protect eastern Bangkok. "I don't think Bangkok is safe," MR Sukhumbhand said. "The danger has not been averted. "However, the situation is not critical yet. The BMA must be vigilant, especially in Sai Mai and Don Muang. If the dyke in Sai Mai is breached, Khlong Sam Wa will be hit too."
The level of the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok was 2.07 metres yesterday, while dykes along the river stand at 2.50 metres on average. Elsewhere, Bangkok's government complex on Chaeng Watthana Road started taking in flood evacuees yesterday, with about 300 flood victims arriving from Rangsit and Lat Lum Kaeo district. Meanwhile, more communities and institutions in Pathum Thani and north Bangkok are threatened by the run-off as it moves from the Central Plains towards the Gulf of Thailand.
Thammasat University's Rangsit campus, Pinehurst golf course, the White House housing estate, Bangkok University's Rangsit campus and other areas in and around Rangsit were placed on alert yesterday after the Nava Nakorn Industrial Estate in Pathum Thani was partially submerged following a breach in its northern flood walls. The management of Thammasat University's Rangsit campus, 8km south of the industrial estate, says it can cope with floodwater, as the campus is also functioning as an evacuation centre.
According to deputy rector Assoc Prof Kamphol Rujiwich, the height of an earth dyke around the campus has been raised and possible leaks plugged. He said sandbags are also providing protection for Thammasat Chalermprakiat Hospital and that patient evacuation plans are in place if needed. Assoc Prof Kamphol also advised new evacuees to head for safer shelters instead of the Rangsit campus.