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Safari World struck by floods

BANGKOK: One of Bangkok’s popular tourist attractions, Safari World, was hit by floods almost 1 metre deep in parts, closing almost half of the park to visitors.

Thursday 3 November 2011, 04:43PM

The park, located in the city’s eastern suburbs, was hit by floods when communities nearby opened a sluice gate in a vain attempt to relieve flooding in their districts.

About half of the 500-rai park is now covered in water 80 cm deep.

The park owners said villagers at Klong Sam Wa sluice gate opened the gate to 1 metre to save their communities. However, it only extended the flooding to a wider area without bringing any relief to the affected areas already underwater.

Safari World executive vice president, Litti Kewkacha, said the flood water engulfed the entire Safari Park zone, or 50 per cent of the entire park with the Marine Park still dry.

He said thousands of animals at the open zoo – some rare species – are now in danger.

“Our priority is to control the flood water in our complex and protect more than 1,000 wild animals, including deer, antelopes, zebras and buffaloes, as well as 60,000 fish and more than 10,000 birds,” Mr Litti said.

He added: “We cannot estimate the damage at the moment. We need to monitor the flood situation very carefully day-by-day.

Initially, Safari World estimated its revenue loss at between B100 million and B150 million.

Normally, the wildlife park attracts between 3,000 and 4,000 visitors per day, of which 80 per cent are foreign tourists, mainly from Europe, Russia, the Middle East and India.

“Since the flood crisis began over a month ago Thai visitors have disappeared, as they are in no mood for entertainment. All family days and staff parties have been cancelled.”

He said that if flooding continued, foreign visitors would also be seriously affected, as they would cancel their trips to Bangkok, especially during the high season.

He dismissed claims by travel agents that the city was unaffected and could still welcome tourists without risk.

There are attractions all over the suburbs and nearby provinces that are now underwater.

“The government should try to raise confidence of foreign tourists, by telling them the facts that Bangkok will return to normal as soon as possible when the flood waters recede and presenting the truth rather than just saying the city is fine,” he added.

The opening of the Klong Sam Wa sluice gate will also threaten factories in the eastern suburbs such as the Ban Chan Industrial Estate.

A major canal near Bang Chan Industrial Estate in eastern Bangkok is brimming over, due to the partial demolition of the Klong Sam Wa sluice gate.

Eastern run-off is spreading and has closed Fashion Island, a popular department store, on Ramintra road near Min Buri.

Flood waters are creeping south along major roads in northern Bangkok towards the inner city. By late last night it had reached the Phaholyothin Road/Ratchayothin intersection, cutting off access to the Major Cinema and Ratchayothin Mall complex and causing heavy traffic congestion near the headquarters of the Siam Commercial Bank.

Earlier in the day Kasetsat University campus was underwater and Vibhavadi Hospital at the corner of the highway at the junction of Ngamwongwan Road is under 80 cm of water.

Dan About Thailand

Officials estimate that within a day or two, floods will have cut off the Lad Phrao intersection where the recently reopened Central Plaza and Central Sofitel Hotel are located.

Water is already seeping up through drains on Lad Phrao Road and close to St John’s University just 500 metres north of Thai Airways International and Bangkok Airways head offices.

Based on the flood flow patterns in the area, Chatuchak market and Mor Chit BTS parking areas will be on flood alert by the weekend or early next week.

Meanwhile Pacific Asia Travel Association’s CEO, Martin Craigs, claims the city is normal except for localised flooding.

The statement overlooks two salient points.

Most of the staff who keep Bangkok’s commercial heart throbbing live in suburbs that are now flooded. By the weekend they will find it almost impossible to commute to their offices.

A huge mass of water in neighbouring provinces is backed-up and is slowly seeping to the lowest points on its journey south to the sea. Archaic waterways and poorly maintained canals will fail to cope with the volume of water.

The extent of flooding in city districts close to the river is difficult to access but some flooding will occur over the next 10 days despite all the efforts to divert the course to the east and west of the city.

On the Thon Buri side of the city, the underground car park of The Mall Bang Khae is flooded, forcing its indefinite closure, while both the inbound and outbound lanes of Phetkasem Road from Soi 1 to 60 are inundated.

The run-off is now forcing buses serving the north to make detours that add three to four hours to the usual nine-hour journey.

Northbound buses will depart from the Mor Chit 2 terminal, take the Srirach Expressway for Samut Sakhon’s Mahachai and Ban Phaeo districts, go through Nakhon Pathom’s Kamphaeng Saen district, Suphan Buri’s Si Prachan and Sam Chuk districts, Sing Buri’s Bang Rachan and Muang districts and Nakhon Sawan’s Takhli, Tak Fas and Phaisali districts, before joining the usual route.

Northeast-bound buses will also use the Srirach Expressway, past Suvarnabhumi Airport, then take the highway to Chachoengsao’s Bang Nam Prieo and Phanom Sarakham districts, Prachin Buri, Nakhon Nayok’s Pak Phli and Ban Na districts, and Saraburi’s Wihan Daeng and Muang districts before continuing on the usual route.

Since 25 July after a tropical storm Nock-Ten hit Thailand, flood affected 63 provinces across the country but only 25 remain inundated. The latest reports confirmed 437 deaths mainly from drowning and electrocution.

Flood water in Nakhon Sawan, 260 km north of Bangkok has dropped and the town centre is now relatively dry. Officials report drops in the water level in Uthai Thani and expect a decline in Chainat soon.

There have been slight improvements in Sing Buri and Ayutthaya, but the water level is still high in Pathum Thani province adjacent to the capital.

Water levels are not expected to drop much before mid-November and officials areas warn that it could take until mid- December to clear flood water enough to begin a full recovery.

TTR Weekly



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