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Capital clean-up in full swing
Push to spruce up city for HM's birthday tomorrow; PM expects return to normalcy before New Year
As flood waters in Bangkok subsided further, cleanup operations were in full swing yesterday in hope the situation would return to normal in time for the celebrations of His Majesty the King's birthday tomorrow.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday expressed confidence that many areas in Bangkok and adjacent provinces could return to normal within this month.
Meanwhile, the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department reported the nationwide flood toll at 666 deaths and three missing persons (two in Mae Hong Son and one in Uttaradit), while floods remained in 16 provinces, including the southern provinces of Phatthalung, Nakhon Si Thammarat and Songkhla.
The Public Health Ministry reported that 2,020,000 people fell ill as a result of flooding and were treated by medical teams. It reported 7,431 flood victims as having severe stress, 9,548 as suffering from depression and 1,699 as being at risk of suicide.
Addressing the public on her weekly TV and radio programme, Yingluck said that, although some areas were still submerged, the Flood Relief Operations Centre (FROC) and other agencies were continuing to drain the water and that eastern Bangkok should be dry this month. As no more water was flowing into western Bangkok, commercial areas should return to normal within one or two weeks, although Phutthamonthon 4 and 5 roads and Om Noi will need two or three weeks to drain, Yingluck said. The Thonburi side of the city could be dry by the end of this month, she added.
With the water level in Khlong Rangsit Prayoonsak visibly lower, Yingluck said flood waters had receded in areas behind the "Big Bag" embankment. As a result, officials would continue to dismantle the barrier. Flooding in Nonthaburi and Pathum Thani could also subside before the New Year, she added.
Regarding the flooded industrial estates, Yingluck said Industry Minister Wannarat Charnnukul had told her that five estates were now dry, and that Saharat Nakhon and Nava Nakorn estates would be dry by December 10. Hi-Tech Industrial Estate and Factory Land have already resumed operations.
As for the flooding in the South, Yingluck said she had urged authorities to be on high alert, as more storms were expected in the region through tomorrow. She said the government was hosting a "Blue Flag" fair at Sanam Luang until Wednesday to sell low-priced goods to flood-affected people.
Bangkok Governor MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra yesterday ordered two sluice gates raised higher to drain water from Pathum Thani and Nonthaburi - while the Phrayasuren gate remained at 1.50m. Khlong Sam Wa district's Khlong Sam Wa sluice gate was raised to 1.40m from 90cm, and Min Buri district's Lam Beung Kwang gate to 1.40m from 1.30m.
A water-pushing device was placed in Khlong Thawee Wattana to lower the water level, making drainage from western Bangkok's Setthakit Ville easier, he said.
The Royal Irrigation Department yesterday opened four windows in the Chulalongkorn sluice gates, taking drainage capacity to 430,000 cubic metres per day, after the level of the Chao Phraya River (2.66m) fell below that of Khlong Rangsit Prayoonsak (2.72m) for the first time since the flooding began. This was expected to make drainage of water from eastern Bangkok faster as well.
Saying the city's main roads should be dry before year's end, Sukhumbhand said tens of thousands of tonnes of garbage remained in the capital and that he had ordered officials to collect as much of it as possible before tomorrowDecember 5. He invited members of the public to join the clean-up effort.
The governor also urged the city's health authorities to advise flood victims on how to protect themselves from germs. He said he had no plan for the New Year holidays because he wanted to help drain Bangkok, collect garbage and assist flood victims.
Sukhumbhand's deputy, Malinee Sukavejworakit, presided over the launch yesterday of a "Big Cleaning Day" campaign in Bang Khae district in front of The Mall Bang Khae and joined the garbage-collection effort along Phetchakasem Road.
Bangkok Deputy Governor Thaya Theepasuwan, presiding over Wat Don Muang School's cleaning project yesterday, distributed Chulalongkorn University's donation of 10,000 litres of anti-fungal chemicals to 436 flood-affected Bangkok schools to clean their buildings. While 345 schools are due to reopen on Tuesday, 91 more schools in 10 flooded districts will reopen on December 13.
FROC director Pracha Promnok said he had cancelled yesterday's meeting with the governors of seven flood-hit provinces to give them time to prepare information and check on flood-drainage problems before presenting and discussing their findings at a meeting on Tuesday or Wednesday. He said it was possible that FROC would dissolve or downsize after the flood situation returned to normal and that, after the meeting with the seven governors, he should have a better idea of the timetable.
The Royal Air Force base at Don Mueang Airport is dry and ready to re-open Tuesday on December 6, and some 200 flooded cars there had been taken for repairs, he said.
Pathum Thani's Rangsit, Suchat and Pornpat markets and the Soi Sang Boon community started to be cleaned by residents yesterday, and should be fully clean in three days, while the 200-year anniversary Rattanakosin Housing Estate saw flood levels fall by 20cm. The worst-flooded spots there are now 70cm-deep and officials expect to have the estate dry by tomorrow.