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Rising Mekong threatens provinces in Thailand and Laos

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Rising Mekong threatens provinces in Thailand and Laos | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: The Nation

Authorities in Thailand’s northern and northeastern provinces are watching the rising water levels in the Mekong after torrential rains have hit large stretches of the country causing flooding in both residential and agricultural areas.

The Mekong river flows through parts of China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

The Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department has instructed its offices in 59 provinces in all regions of the country to be “fully prepared” for overflowing rivers, flash floods and landslides following days of heavy downpours, director-general Chayapol Thitisak said yesterday. Of the 59 provinces, 17 are in the North, 20 in the Northeast, eight in the Central region and 14 in the South.

Riverside provinces like Chiang Rai, Mukdahan, Nakhon Phanom, Nong Khai and Ubon Ratchathani yesterday reported a continuing increase towards the critical point in the Mekong’s water levels. In Mukdahan, the river’s highest water level was recorded at 12.3 metres, just 18 centimetres below the bank.

After 15 days of downpours in Nakhon Phanom, water in the Mekong section passing the province stood at 11.5 metres yesterday – 1.5 metres below the critical level. This has led to many tributaries overflowing and flooding eight districts of Nakhon Phanom, prompting local authorities to declare them disaster zones.

Chiang Rai province’s riverside Chiang Khong district saw a sharp rise in the Mekong’s water levels to 7 metres, up from the normal 3-4 metres, compared to the critical level of 10 metres. The district chief, Tassanai Suthapoj, said he had convened a meeting of local administrators about preparations for possible flooding. He attributed the rise in the Mekong water volumes to heavy rains and extra water released from a dam in southern China.

Rising Mekong threatens provinces in Thailand and Laos | News by The Thaiger

Read more about the Mekong Flood Plains HERE.

In Ubon Ratchathani, many areas in five riverside districts were flooded due to overflows from the Mekong. Several roads connecting villages and other parts of the province became impassable. Elderly villagers said they believed this year’s rains could be the heaviest in 40 years. In 1978, heavy downpours had led to the Mekong overflowing and causing severe floods that hit large farming areas of the province.

Authorities in Nong Khai province yesterday warned residents in riverside areas to be prepared for possible overflows from the Mekong, as water levels continued to rise following days of heavy rains. All river shipping operators in the province have halted operations on the river due to safety concerns. Meanwhile, four families in the Sop Moei district of the northern Mae Hong Son province were evacuated yesterday after cracks developed in their houses as a result of land subsidence. Local officials said there was a risk of landslides following heavy rains in the area.

In Nan, another northern province, 65 families in the Bo Kluea district requested state assistance for relocation after a landslide in their village left eight residents dead over the past weekend. The cremation of the eight landslide victims in Nan was held yesterday.

Large volumes of water released from Laos’ dams have been blamed for floods in many riverside provinces on the Thai side. Chainarong Setthachua, a lecturer at Maha Sarakham University, said he thought the imminent increase in the water levels in riverside areas was due to the release of water from Nam Theun 2 Dam in Laos. More release of water from Nam Ngum 5 Dam across the river could worsen the situation, he warned.

On the Laos side, flood victims in the Sanamxay district of Attapeu province were still in need of essential items, especially food, rice, drinking water, clothing, blankets, medicines and other daily necessities. More than 10,000 people were relocated to shelter centres in Attapeu and Champassak provinces after inundation from a dam collapse hit 13 villages.

Rising Mekong threatens provinces in Thailand and Laos | News by The Thaiger Rising Mekong threatens provinces in Thailand and Laos | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: The Nation



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Southeast Asia

LATEST: Sri Lanka bombings

Kritsada Mueanhawong

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LATEST: Sri Lanka bombings | The Thaiger

A wave of explosions rocked Sri Lanka up-scale hotels and churches on Easter Sunday around the capital Colombo. This is what we know…

• At least 215 people have been confirmed dead with up to 450 more injured in a series of bombings targeting churches holding Easter services and hotels in Sri Lanka. The toll is likely to rise during today or at least become more precise as officials tally information from emergency responders.

• Most of the dead are said to be Sri Lankans, but officials say up to 40 foreigners have lost their lives.

• Three UK nationals and two US-UK dual nationals were among the dead. One Dutch, one Chinese, one Portuguese and two Turkish nationals have been killed, their respective foreign ministries have confirmed.

• There were six initial blasts, at three hotels and three churches, before two more explosions some time later, at a guest house and housing scheme, with two people reported to have been killed at the former. A government minister says the last two blasts appeared to have been carried out by the culprits as they fled from police.

• No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks but Sri Lanka’s defence minister Ruwan Wijewardene claims the culprits have been identified and were religious extremists. He said suicide bombers were responsible for the majority of the morning’s bombings and that the wave of attacks was the work of a single group.

• Eight people are reported to have been arrested so far.

• The Sri Lankan government has issued a curfew and shut down social media and messaging services to prevent the spread of disinformation.

• Sri Lanka’s PM, Ranil Wickremesinghe, has condemned the “cowardly” attacks and urged people to remain “united and strong”.

• The archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, called it “a very sad day” and is urging the government to identify the attackers and “punish them mercilessly because only animals can behave like that”.

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Southeast Asia

Mitsubishi testing their new regional jet

Kritsada Mueanhawong

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Mitsubishi testing their new regional jet | The Thaiger

PHOTO: The Japan Times

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ new 88-passenger Mitsubishi Regional Jet is testing the skies just as rivals Embraer and Bombardier are moving to sell off their manufacturing operations for jets with up to 160 seats to Boeing and Airbus.

At stake, particularly in the market for jets with fewer seats, is US$135 billion in sales in the two decades through 2037, according to industry group Japan Aircraft Development.

More cities in Asia and Europe are seeking to link up with each other and the Mitsubishi Regional Jet, the first airliner built in Japan since the 1960s, began certification flights last month in Moses Lake, Washington.

With fewer seats and smaller fuselages, regional jets are a different class of aircraft from larger narrow-body planes such as Boeing’s 737 or Airbus’s A320. The MRJ has a range of about 3,220 kilometres. The seating is 2+2 instead of 3+3 in a small Airbus or Boeing single-aisle jet.

After spending at least US$2 billion over more than a decade, the manufacturer is looking to get its jet certified and start deliveries to launch partner ANA Holdings.

Mitsubishi initially planned test flights in 2012 but blew past that deadline because of production difficulties. Now, the company, which makes ships, nuclear power plants and aerospace components, expects to have the plane ready for customers next year, a timetable that will test the company, said Mitsubishi Aircraft president Hisakazu Mizutani.

Mitsubishi Heavy is not the only Asian manufacturer betting that it can build aircraft cheaper and more efficiently. Commercial Aircraft of China (Comac) has a new regional jet in service, while Korea Aerospace Industries is studying whether to develop a 100-passenger aircraft.

“The aviation market in Asia is expected to grow further in the coming years and there will be demand for these aircraft,” said analyst Lee Dong-heon at Daishin Securities in Seoul.

“The shift in the regional aviation segment we have seen over the last year or so has opened opportunities.”

“The MRJ is fully capable of competing in the market.”

Mitsubishi testing their new regional jet | News by The Thaiger

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North East

Opening of a rail service between Thailand and Cambodia in Sa Kaew

Kritsada Mueanhawong

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Opening of a rail service between Thailand and Cambodia in Sa Kaew | The Thaiger

The Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha is leading a delegation to officiate at the opening of a new rail service between Thailand and Cambodia at Klong Luek railway station in Sa Kaew province. The Thai government funded the maintenance and restoration of the two kilometre rail track between Klong Luek station and Poipet station in Cambodia.

Rail services between Thailand and Cambodia were suspended for decades due to strained relationships between the two countries since the Cold War era. Although the relationship is much better these days there was little interest in the restoration of the rail link as people in both countries tended to prefer travel by road.

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