UPDATE: The Phuket Info Center confirmed at 11:50am that both lanes through the underpass had fully reopened.
“There is not a lot of flood water remaining [in the tunnel] and it should not take long to fix this,” Pol Lt Sommart Tanmaneeprasert of Wichit Police told The Phuket News this morning.
The underpass flooded following a heavy downpour at about 2am yesterday (May 8). By 6:30am yesterday there had been a seven-car pileup in the southbound lane of the tunnel, leading to several of the concrete barriers separating traffic in the tunnel being damaged.
No injuries were reported as a result of the pile-up. However, two of the damaged concrete barriers struck by cars ended up in the northbound lane inside the tunnel, forcing traffic police to close the tunnel to traffic in both directions for safety.
By 11:30am yesterday, traffic police reported that broken water pumps had left officials unable to drain the floodwaters from the tunnel. Motorists were urged to avoid the area.
By 5pm yesterday traffic police were able to reopen the northbound lane to traffic, but the southbound lanes remained closed.
Traffic Police reported that the delays in reopening the tunnel were due to two of the drainage pumps being inoperable, and the third had ceased functioning.
By 6pm, nearly seven hours after officials knew at least two of the pumps were not working, a pump truck from the Phuket Waterworks Authority (PWA) arrived to start draining the floodwaters from the tunnel.
It was not reported why a pump truck from the Phuket Provincial branch of the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM-Phuket) was not dispatched to clear the floodwaters. The DDPM-Phuket has mobile pump trucks on 24-hour standby to use to clear floodwaters from villages in distress during heavy rains.
By this morning traffic was still allowed through the tunnel northbound, but the southbound lane was closed.
Attempts by The Phuket News to contact Phuket Highways Office Chief Yutthana Pitak to clarify why the pump system had failed have been unsuccessful.
The Darasamut Underpass is regularly closed for maintenance to ensure that the lighting system and the pump system to drain the tunnel of any floodwaters are operational. The underpass was last closed for a full maintenance check in January.
Kurt | 10 May 2023 - 10:29:03