Friday, August 22, 2008

Locals told to head for high ground


Locals told to head for high ground


CHIANG RAI : Local residents of the Thai-Burmese border trade area in Mae Sai district were advised to pack up their belongings and move to higher ground after a new surge of floodwater.

Rain-induced floods recently swamped border communities and markets along the Thai-Burmese border in Mae Sai district and in the Burmese town of Tachilek just across the border.

The flood waters receded on Thursday only to rise again in the early hours of yesterday, further damaging Mae Sai-Tachilek border trade.

The water was 30-80 centimetres high in the main Sai Lom Joy market.

Tambon Mae Sai municipality mayor Saiyon Srisamut said a makeshift cooking facility was set up to prepare more than 4,000 sets of food packages and drinking water for affected people.

Mr Saiyon said implementing flood control measures on the Mae Sai river would be difficult because that would require bilateral cooperation between Thailand and Burma.

At Tachilek market, goods at more than 500 shops and warehouses along the Mae Sai river were destroyed by the floodwaters.

Overall damage to Mae Sai-Tachilek border trade was estimated at more than 100 million baht so far, said Boontham Thipprasong, the vice-chairman of the Chiang Rai Chamber of Commerce.

Deforestation and encroachment on the Mae Sai river were blamed for the flash floods.

Mr Boontham said the new floods caught vendors at Sai Lom Joy market by surprise. Many did not have enough time to pack up. More than 200 shops around the market were submerged.

Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej made an unannounced visit to the flood-hit border trade area yesterday.

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