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Flood warnings for provinces in Isan

Bangkok Post 18 August 2008

Rising water levels in the Mekong river continue to cause havoc in some northeastern provinces with flood warnings issued for Ubon Ratchathani and Amnat Charoen yesterday.

Floods, said to be the worst in 100 years, have ravaged farms and townships along the Mekong river since Aug 9.

The weather office attributes the flooding to above-average rainfall in the region. The Mekong has overflowed its banks in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Environmentalists say the construction of dams on the river in China and the clearing of reefs to allow navigation by large cargo vessels have also contributed to the flooding.

With the Mekong running so high, water has backed up in the river's tributaries, adding to the problem.

The Irrigation Department yesterday warned people living near the Mekong and its tributaries in Ubon Ratchathani and Amnat Charoen that run-off combined with the flood surge moving down the river could cause additional problems.

The warning was issued after the Mekong River Commission reported the water level along the Mekong in Chiang Rai, Loei and Nong Khai was receding but was still rising in Ubon Ratchathani, where it was only 2.5 metres short of overflowing the banks.

In Nakhon Phanom, overflow from the Mekong submerged houses, restaurants and offices close to the river. Farm land along the Songkhram river, a major tributary of the Mekong, was also under water.

In Mukdahan, the river bank was being eroded, much to the alarm of farmers.

''My backyard has been lost to erosion over the last few years. My house is now only metres away from the river,'' said Napassorn Charoensukmaliwan, who runs a restaurant on the Mekong river bank.

Mukdahan governor Praneet Boonmee said the province was losing at least 35 rai of land along the Mekong river each year due to soil erosion.

The province would seek government funds to build a levee along 72 kilometres of the river bank to prevent further loss of land.


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