PHUKET: Landslides caused by torrential rains claimed two lives in Patong last night and injured four others, according to Patong Hospital.
The downpour also caused extensive flooding in Phuket City and many other parts of the island.
Padungkiat Utoksenee, Deputy Director of Patong Hospital, said that while flooding in Patong often resulted in accidents, last night was the first time people had been killed by a landslide.
He said the victims were a Thai mother and her child who lived on the densely-settled Nanai Rd. The landslide crashed through the wall of their dwelling, he said.
The names of the dead and injured, all Thai nationals, have not been released pending notification of kin, he added.
Nanai Rd runs along the base of the hills that encircle the municipality, and which have been the site of extensive, largely unregulated, hillside construction in recent years. Homeowners build ever higher up the hillside to gain sea views.
Much of the construction is in direct violation of a provincial ban on building permanent structures higher than 80 meters above sea level, and other building codes.
Noting that the parking lot of Patong Hospital was knee-deep in floodwater – as were other parts of the town – K. Padungkiat called on Patong Municipality to improve its flood control measures.
Boonchai Somjai, head of the Phuket Provincial Office of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (ODPM), told the Gazette that the rainfall statistics for the 24-hour period starting at 7 am yesterday were 92.9 millimeters at the Phuket City monitoring station and 25mm at the Phuket International Airport.
He said “nearly every road” in Phuket City experienced flooding, as did roads in Cherng Talay.
The ODPM was coordinating with tambon authorities and municipalities to ensure a fast recovery by ensuring floodwater drains off as quickly as possible, he said.
More heavy rain is expected. Chumnong Chitpukdee, Director of the Southern Meteorological Center (West Coast), told the Gazette that the low-pressure system covering the central and lower part of Southern Thailand would continue to bring heavy rain throughout the region.
It has already brought severe flooding along the east coast of peninsular Thailand, and resulted in deaths in Chumpon, Surat Thani, Nakhon Sri Thammarat, Phattalung and as far south as Narathiwat.
The forecast for Phuket in the 24 hours from noon today predicts widespread thundershowers over 70% of the island.
Winds will be northeasterly at 20–40 kmh; wave heights will be 2-3 meters. Shipping should proceed with caution.
K. Chumnong said the bad weather would probably not last more than two days, after which time clear conditions would prevail because the rain is expected to remove much of the haze from the atmosphere.
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