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Flash floods kill 11 in south Thailand

Caritas staff prepare to help in area where there has been 'unprecedented' rainfall

Flash floods kill 11 in south Thailand
Catholic church in Nakhon Sri Thammarat
Panithan Kitsakul, Bangkok

March 30, 2011

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Catholic Church institutions in southern Thailand are  helping people affected by flash floods that have hit the region over the past few days. “It rained for the whole day and night for several days in the south, especially in Nakhon Sri Thammarat province. Many churches and schools were affected. We have supported the affected people with food and drinking water and are now assessing the situation for further support,” said Father Amornkit Prompakdee  from the southern Surat Thani diocese. Media reported that at least 11 people were killed and more than 700,000 others affected as floods swept through eight provinces in southern Thailand. Surat Thani, the largest of the southern provinces where the diocese is based, received 855 mm of rain. The region usually gets only about 50 mm of rain for the month of March. A Caritas Thailand official told that Caritas staff are presently at a meeting to assess the situation. “We have sent a team to the region to see what help is required and have called on Church institutions to help support affected people.” Describing the unusually heavy rains, Sister Jintana Rattanasakchaichan of Mariapitak school in Nakhon Sri Thammarat  said, “Our school was flooded by 1.5 meter high floodwaters. We have never faced such heavy flooding like this before. Our school furniture was destroyed and we lost many documents.” Her school, she said, has to delay opening its summer classes. “We were supposed to open summer class on Monday  for our 400 students.  We hope we can open school next week.” Food too is scarce in the region, she said. As roads around the school were flooded, the nuns had only instant noodles to eat, she said. Other Catholic schools in the region also had to delay their summer classes, said Fr. Watthanasak Srivorakul, principal of Darunothai School in Trang province. Fr. Suwat Luangsa-ad of Surat Thani diocese said  the Church will  conduct an assessment shortly and provide short and long term support to  affected schools. “We will help with teaching material and equipment in order for schools to open as soon as possible.” According to the Thai Ministry of Education about 600 schools in the south have been directly affected, with buildings, furniture, equipment and  equipment and books either damaged or destroyed. Surat Thani diocese runs 24  schools and has 7,419 Catholics, representing just under one percent of the total population. Its territory includes 15 southern provinces - Prachuab Khiri Khan, Chumphon, Surat Thani, Ranong, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Phattalung, Trang, Songkhla, Phangnga, Phuket, Krabi, Narathiwat, Pattani, Satun and Yala. TH13791.167
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