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Sakon Nakhon floods easing. Authorities worried about more rain.

Tanutam Thawan

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Sakon Nakhon floods easing. Authorities worried about more rain. | The Thaiger

The country’s disaster warning system needs to be reformed, experts emphasized yesterday, as there was no warning for the recent flash flood in Sakon Nakhon that resulted from heavy downpours and leakage in a local reservoir.

Meanwhile, experts have reassured the public that there will be no big flood similar to the disaster in 2011, because there was no indication of heavy rainfall in the late phase of the rainy season. The flooding in the Northeastern provinces was due to obstructions to the local water drainage systems and a large downpour in a short period of time.

On Friday morning, Sakon Nakhon residents woke up to find their city being submerged by flash flooding caused by heavy rains. Shortly afterwards, more than 1 million cubic meters of water that leaked from the Huai Zaikamin Reservoir washed down toward the city, intensifying the flood situation and leaving some areas under two meters of water.

Due to the lack of warning, a large number of people were unable to evacuate in time and their belongings were damaged. Hannarong Yaowalers, Thai-Water Partnerships chairman, said that the disaster in Sakon Nakhon was not the first and would not be the last unless the disaster warning system was improved.

“In January, we witnessed the failure of the authorities to warn the people in Prachuap Khiri Khan about the upcoming severe floods from the broken reservoir upstream, which cost people’s lives,” he said.

“The incident in Sakon Nakhon proves that there are serious flaws in our warning system, which needs to be fixed as soon as possible.” Mr Hannarong said that the current disaster warning system was too slow to keep up with the recent floods, and that authorities needed to keep updating it.

“What we have experienced in Sakon Nakhon is that the precipitation in the province increased over 200 millimeters within a short period.

“This signified the critical situation of a flash flood, but it seemed that the local authorities were too complacent and were not ready to cope with the situation, so the damage is great,” he said.

Mr Hannarong stated that the system should warn people immediately when there is any indication of disaster. People should be informed in enough time to evacuate and they should be made aware of how long the disaster will last.

“It is quite simple to warn the people about floods because we already have the monitoring system for precipitation and water levels in the reservoirs,” he said. “All the authorities need to do is tell people the truth as soon as possible.”

However, Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department deputy director-general Kobchai Boonyaorana said the disaster-warning system was already working well, but the flash flood in Sakon Nakhon occurred “too rapidly”. Officers were simply unable to warn the people in time.

“From the information provided by the Meteorological Department, there was a cluster of heavy rain in the Sakon Nakhon area during the time of disaster. When the rain met with the Phu Phan Mountain Range, it caused a heavy downpour within a short period, and triggered flash flooding from the mountain to the city down below,” Mr Kobchai explained. “It happened so fast, but after the flood, we dispatched a disaster relief team to Sakon Nakhon immediately to help the people and restore the basic infrastructure.”

He said that five evacuation centres had been set up right afterwards and had received 909 people. The authorities also diverted floodwaters to Nong Han Lake and drained the water out to the Mekong River to relieve the flood situation in the city. Chaowalit Chantararat, managing director of the TEAM Group engineering firm, said that the major flooding in Sakon Nakhon was mainly because the local drainage system could not receive a large amount of water.

Despite the severity of flooding in the Northeastern region, there was no indication that there would be major flooding in the Chao Phraya River Basin and Bangkok soon. “This year is actually a normal year in terms of precipitation levels, which means that we will get the normal amount of rainwater and there will be no big flood like in 2011,” he assured.



Read more headlines, reports & breaking news in Thailand. Or catch up on your Thailand news.

Local Thai journalist speaking fluent Thai and English. Tanutam studied in Khon Kaen before attending Bangkok’s Chulalongkhorn University.

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Election

Petition aims to impeach Election Commissioners

Tanutam Thawan

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Petition aims to impeach Election Commissioners | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Election Commission chief Ittiporn Boonpracong – The Nation

More than 670,000 people have signed a petition at the change.org website calling for the Election Commission’s five commissioners to be ‘stood aside’ pending an investigation in the aftermath of the March 24 Thai election.

Petitioners contend that the election was marred by mistakes, blunders and tampering.

The campaign could actually become a legitimate threat to the five commissioners due to the large number of signatories.

The petition may be submitted to the NLA speaker in the hope he would submit it to the National Anti-Corruption Commission. The NLA Senators would require 60% support to recommend impeachment of the EC commissioners, according to the Thai Constitution (Charter).

In the meantime the five commissioners would be suspended from duties throwing the election outcome into confusion.

Yesterday, former PM Thaksin Shinawatra, mostly silent during the campaign leading up to March 24, wrote an opinion piece in The New York Times alleging the number of ballots seemed to exceed the number of voters in some booths while in other areas voter turn-out was reported to be twice as many people registered.

His claims were made without evidence.

For their part, the EC claims they were cyber-hacked on Sunday evening.

Deputy EC secretary-general Nat Laosisawakul says, ”There were three attacks that caused the system to crash twice.”

“Some poll station staff also made errors in compiling the votes.”

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Election

Parties race to cobble together a working coalition

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Parties race to cobble together a working coalition | The Thaiger

Day Two following the election and the only thing that is clear is that nothing is clear at this stage.

Pheu Thai and Phalang Pracharat are both claiming the right to form a government with support of like-minded parties.

The two rival parties, the pro-democracy Pheu Thai and the pro-Junta Phalang Pracharat, are locked in a close battle to form the next government with little difference between the two in terms of strength in Parliament.

The Phalang Pracharat Party claims it has secured the “popular vote” from people nationwide. But Pheu Thai argues it has won the most number of MP seats and therefore should be invited first to form the government.

With 95 per cent of votes counted as of last night, the pro-junta party grossed 7,939,937 votes nationwide while the Shinawatra-backed Pheu Thai was second with 7,423,361 votes.

In this election, under the new Constitution, the total number of votes for each party, irrespective of whether its constituency candidates win or not, are combined to determine how many MPs each party gets in total.

The Election Commission yesterday announced unofficial results of constituency winners. Pheu Thai Party became the single-largest party with 138 seats from all 350 constituencies. Phalang Pracharat, meanwhile, came second, winning 96 seats.

According to current media calculations, the total number of seats from constituency and party-list, Pheu Thai will get the most number at 138 while Phalang Pracharat will have 119. The EC has not calculated the number of party-list seats at this stage and may take the rest of the week to come up with a published result.

Though both parties can make equally strong claims to form the government, analysts believe it will not be easy for either to form the next Parliament.

According to the latest figures, the pro-junta camp can gain around 242 seats with support from parties who are clearly opposed to Pheu Thai.

The Pheu Thai camp can also muster 242 seats with support from anti-junta parties like Future Forward, Seri Ruam Thai and Prachachart.

“Only the winning party should lead the coalition,” say the Pheu Thai’ de facto leader Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan.

Parties race to cobble together a working coalition | News by The Thaiger

INFOGRAPHIC: The Nation

Pheu Thai secretary-general Phumtham Wechayachai said that the party was seeking collaboration with other pro-democracy parties and would discuss the PM candidate to find the best option for the country.

Pheu Thai leaders have also started putting pressure on the junta-appointed Senate, stressing that senators must be free of any influence and respect the people’s voices as reflected in the election.

Later yesterday, Phalang Pracharat Party leader Uttama Savanayana claimed his party had won the right to form the next government as more than 7.9 million people nationwide had voted for them. He also said he was confident his party could successfully form the next government.

“Every vote is counted and has meaning. We have legitimacy, as we have gained the most trusted votes. Our winning results (with the most votes nationwide) show that voters have given us the mandate to govern the country,” he said at a press conference after the EC announced the unofficial results.

“We will ensure that we will do everything according to the mandate of the voters who want us to move the country forward peacefully,” he said.

A Phalang Pracharat source said negotiations were on with Bhumjaithai leader Anutin Charnvirakul, Chartthai Pattana leader Kanchana Silpa-archa, Suthep Thaugsuban of Action Coalition for Thailand and Suwat Liptapanlop of Chartpattana. The Democrat Party is also negotiating.

Anutin yesterday did not commit to joining any side, saying he would do whatever was in the people’s interests.

Meanwhile, the Future Forward Party celebrated victories in 30 constituencies in its electoral debut. But its leader, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, said he had no intentions of bidding for the top job.

“The prime minister must be nominated from the party with the most MPs,” Thanathorn said firmly at a press conference yesterday.

“I’m ready to be the PM. But we want to uphold democratic traditions and we won’t bring in any conditions that would lead the country to another deadlock.”

SOURCE: The Nation

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Hua Hin

Sea turtle dies after getting tangled in a fishing net – Prachuap Khiri Khan

Tanutam Thawan

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Sea turtle dies after getting tangled in a fishing net – Prachuap Khiri Khan | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: The Wild Animal Rescue Foundation of Thailand

A series of photos that convey everything we should be concerned about in Thailand’s marine ecology.

A Green Sea Turtle, tangled in a fishing net, has been washed up on a beach in Prachuap Khiri Khan.

The Department of Marine and Coastal Resources reports that they were notified that a dead sea turtle had been washed up on a beach in Bang Saphan, Prachuap Kiri Khan.

The Green Sea turtle was 60 centimetres wide, 64 centimetres long and weighed 18 kilograms.

The turtle was already rotting when it was found tangled in the fishing net.

Sea turtle dies after getting tangled in a fishing net - Prachuap Khiri Khan | News by The Thaiger Sea turtle dies after getting tangled in a fishing net - Prachuap Khiri Khan | News by The Thaiger

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