Floods affect thousands in northern and central Thailand

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Thailand, Nov 04, 2008 - Heavy rains that began Friday (October 31) in northern Thailand have caused flooding that has affected thousands of people in northern and central provinces. The west-central province of Nakhon Sawan has been hit the hardest, with 3,400 families stranded and 45 roads and three dykes damaged as of Tuesday (November 4), according to Bangkok-based The Nation. One district, Banphot Phisai, has been declared a disaster area, while two people died Saturday (November 1) due to flooding in the Wat Sai area. According to the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, other hard-hit provinces include the northern provinces of Tak, where some 30,000 residents were affected by five-foot (1.5-meter) deep waters on Saturday in Mae Sot district, Uttaradit and Phrae, and the central province of Nakhon Ratchasima. In Lop Buri province, which neighbors Nakhon Ratchasima, officials planned to begin releasing about 1.8 billion cubic feet (50 million cubic meters) of water a day from a Pasak River dam that has reached its capacity, The Nation reported. Officials warned people living along the river in Saraburi, Ayatthaya and Pathum Thani provinces to move their belongings to higher ground in anticipation of resulting floods. In the northern province of Chiang Mai, The Nation reported that floods damaged large portions of rice fields on Monday (November 3). Thailand's southwestern monsoon season typically runs from May through October. The country has not seen extensive flooding this year or in 2007, but 2006 was its worst in about a decade, with 46 of 76 provinces experiencing flooding and about 40 deaths reported.