Thai PM invokes natural disaster law

October 22nd, 2011 - 7:30 pm ICT by BNO News  

BANGKOK (BNO NEWS) — Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Friday assumed powers under the natural disaster law giving her full authority to implement a nationwide disaster relief plan as more than one-third of the country is underwater, the Bangkok Post reported.

The Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Act gives the prime minister full authority over state officials around the country. Those who refuse to follow orders can be prosecuted for negligence of duty, according to the report.

Yingluck, who said the move was necessary to streamline relief operations, has ordered the Defense Ministry and the army to oversee and protect key places. 
The government has struggled to channel the massive amount of water that has caused widespread flooding in the country’s Central Plains, around the outskirts of Bangkok.

Yingluck said on Thursday that it is impossible to protect all of Bangkok from the country’s worst floods in decades, adding that they “cannot block the water forever”. 

Inner Bangkok has so far escaped major flooding as authorities divert water to areas outside the main capital, but efforts to keep the city of 12 million people dry have been complicated by a seasonal high tide.

Thailand has been hit by unusually heavy monsoon rains in the past months, killing at least 320 people in flood-related incidents and affecting thousands of villages. Currently, about one-third of Thailand’s provinces are affected.

In April and May, Thailand was also hit by flooding in the country’s southern region, causing billions in damages to their fishing industry, industrial sector, tourism, and business and trade, among other areas.

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