Aid effort kicks off in wake of Pabuk's wrath

Report
from Bangkok Post
Published on 07 Jan 2019 View Original

King gives survival kits, PM visits South

Survival kits and other aid for storm and flood victims have started to roll in to hundreds of communities and farms affected by Tropical Storm Pabuk, as Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha makes a trip to the South to lead the recovery effort.

The assistance came after pictures from Nakhon Si Thammarat and its surrounding provinces showed the extent of the damage from the storm, which claimed the lives of several people, not to mention rare dolphins.

To date, six people are reported to have died after Pabuk made landfall on Nakhon Si Thammarat's Pak Phanang coastline late on Friday. The storm continued onwards to the Andaman Sea the following day.

Pabuk was downgraded Sunday to a low-pressure system, which is "a good news for Thailand", government spokesman Buddhipongse Punnakanta quoted Gen Prayut as saying.

The premier is scheduled to visit storm victims in Nakhon Si Thammarat Monday, following provisions and survival kits given by His Majesty the King to residents, especially evacuees in the hardest-hit Pak Phanang district.

Volunteers handed food to evacuees from khrua phraratchathan, a royally bestowed kitchen, while necessities were distributed to villagers at a local temple in Pak Phanang district.

Military officers have been also ordered to assist in the operation.

"All armed forces must stand by the side of people to help them," Defence Ministry spokesman Kongcheep Tantravanich said, quoting deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon.

Although Pabuk has begun to move away from the South, the storm left behind a string of tragedies in its wake.

Police found the body of Joom Pooroy in a canal, in which the 57-year-old plunged into while she was riding a motorcycle to look for her child late on Friday.

She was among the villagers who were evacuated to an emergency shelter earlier on the same day. Officers said that she must have passed out and drowned because of the strong current.

A fisherman was found dead on the shore at Pattani's Yaring district Sunday, after his boat capsized on Friday.

As the surveys to quantify the damage to private property and public infrastructures continue, authorities are starting to count the casualties among wildlife.

Animals were also among the casualties claimed by Pabuk as it tore its way through the South, as at least one hua bat finless porpoise and one si chomphu humpbacked dolphin were killed by strong waves.

"The young calves struggled against 4- to 5-metre high waves as they emerged to breathe on the water's surface," Thon Thamrongnawasawat, a marine scientist who serves as the deputy dean of Kasetsart University's Faculty of Fisheries, wrote on his Facebook page.

"They tried their best but failed to find their mothers."

Mr Thon believed the dolphins were separated from their respective pods.

"They died as Pabuk departed," the marine scientist lamented.

"We can't help them. But nature is indeed always impartial -- no mercy."

In Prachuap Khiri Khan gigantic waves destroyed a seawall, tearing down the line of defence along Sam Roi Yot beach and hurling stones and sand ashore.

Officials were shocked when they saw stones littering a seaside road over a distance of nearly 800 metres.

Travelling times for residents and tourists lengthened sharply as many roads were severely damaged by the storm.

Long-term solutions to all affected provinces are being planned to help villagers' lives return to normal.

The government wants to "absorb their tears and increase their revenues", Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong said after an urgent meeting.

Officials will help villagers sell their remaining farm produce in Bangkok, as well as grocery stores and shopping centres in their provinces, he said.

Pabuk affected 212,784 people across 2,635 villages in 18 provinces from Thursday to Saturday last week, according to the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department.

In Nakhon Si Thammarat alone, almost 180,000 residents across 23 villages were affected.

While most shelters have closed, eight shelters remain open in the storm-ravaged province, as more than 1,100 residents affected by the storm have decided to stay until the flooding recedes.

Bangkok Post:
Republished with permission. © Post Publishing Plc. - https://www.bangkokpost.com/