Thailand declares 15 provinces drought disaster zones

BANGKOK - Villages in 15 provinces have been declared drought disaster zones in need of urgent help.

Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department chief Chatchai Promlert made the announcement on Thursday, The Bangkok Post reported.

The newspaper said the 15 provinces are in the north (Uttaradit, Sukhothai, Phrae and Tak); north-east (Buri Ram, Maha Sarakham, Khon Kaen and Si Sa Ket); central (Sing Buri, Saraburi and Chai Nat); east (Chachoengsao, Chanthaburi and Prachin Buri); and the south (Trang).

The report quoted Mr Chatchai as saying his department had prepared officials and equipment including water trucks and water pumps to be dispatched to drought-hit areas to provide relief assistance.

He said major reservoirs in the country are now holding a total of 44,950 million cubic metres of water, 64 per cent of their full capacity. Of that, 21,447 million cubic metres of water is available for distribution, according to the newspaper.

The four reservoirs at Bhumibol, Sirikit, Pasak Jolasid and Kwae Noy Bamrung Daen are now holding 11,930 million cubic metres of water. Only 5,234 million cubic metres is available for distribution for agriculture.

The newspaper quoted Mr Chatchai as saying it is necessary for farmers to use water economically, urging growers to suspend rice planting and turn to short-lived crops which consume little water.