[font="tahoma, geneva, sans-serif;"]19 provinces on flood alert as Typhoon Wutip heads to Thailand[/font]
State agencies ordered to prepare for Typhoon Wutip, expected to bring heavy rain to 19 provinces in the North and Northeast from Tuesday, with many provinces already struggling under floods brought by monsoon rains. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Monday instructed the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department and other offices in risk areas to prepare for the storm, which is set to bring torrential rain and floods to many areas already inundated with water.
According to a report from the department, 32 provinces are already struggling to cope with floods, which have killed at least 22 people this year. The premier said the government will closely monitor Wutip, while the Flood Relief Operation Centre warned that 19 provinces are in the path of the typhoon. They are Mukdahan, Bung Kan, Nakhon Phanom, Sakon Nakhon, Udon Thani, Nong Khai, Loei, Kalasin and Nong Bua Lamphu in the Northeast and Nan, Uttaradit, Phrae, Phayao, Lampang, Lamphun, Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Mae Hong Son and Tak in the North.
Central and eastern provinces may not be directly affected by the typhoon, but existing floods could be exacerbated, especially in Prachin Buri. Deputy Prime Minister Plodprasop Suraswadi said the government is particularly concerned about the situation in Prachin Buri's Muang district, because the business town is being inundated with water from the northern districts of Kabin Buri, Si Maha Phot and Prachantakham.
Roads along the banks of the Prachin Buri River in Muang district are now submerged by up to 60 centimetres of water - double the level recorded on Saturday. Provinces downstream of the Chao Phraya dam in Chai Nat have also been hit by floods, as the dam continues to release water at 2,195 cubic metres per second, up from its normal discharge of around 1,800 cubic metres per second. Department director-general Chatchai Promlert warned communities living alongside the Chao Phraya River and other tributaries to prepare for more of the same, since water flowing out of the dam continues to increase flood levels. The situation prompted the prime minister to visit flood-hit areas in Ubon Ratchathani and Si Sa Ket on Monday.
The Water and Flood Management Commission and officials of the two provinces have been assigned to try and drain water into the Moon River as a matter of urgency, especially in Si Sa Ket, where 22 districts are flooded and nine people have died. Meanwhile, at least 70 people were missing after three fishing boats caught up in Typhoon Wutip sank in the South China Sea, Chinese state media said on Monday. "Three fishing boats have sunk since Sunday afternoon," Xinhua news agency said, quoting maritime authorities. Altogether five boats carrying 171 people were caught in rough seas whipped up by Typhoon Wutip, which is expected to make landfall in Vietnam's central region later Monday, before reaching Thailand on Tuesday.
Vietnam has evacuated 70,000 people from high-risk areas as it prepares for the typhoon, according to the country's national flood and storm control department.