10/27/2011, 00.00
THAILAND
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Entire Bangkok neighbourhoods evacuated but for Caritas president, hope born from emergency

by Weena Kowitwanij
The northern and western sectors of the city are under extreme pressure. The authorities order the evacuation of entire areas under water. Alarm is sounded over contaminated drinking water and garbage removal. For Phibun Visitnonthachai, the crisis brings out the values of faith, looking at Christ as an “example and teaching”.
Bangkok (AsiaNews) – Water levels continue to rise in Bangkok. The northern and western sectors of the city are on full alert. The authorities have ordered residents in Don Muang, Bang Phlad and Thawi Wattana districts to evacuate.

The inundation at Wat Puranawas Temple reached 2.4 metres, prompting emergency evacuation of monks and flood victims residing at the shelter inside the temple. Many parts of the capital have seen a mass exodus towards the south. Bangkok residents fleeing the floods are fast filling up second homes and hotels in the coastal resort towns of Hua Hin and Pattaya.

The authorities have set up evacuation shelters for hundreds of thousands of evacuees from Bangkok in the provinces of Kanchanaburi, Suphan Buri, Ratchaburi, Phetchaburi and Chon Buri.

Water pollution and refuse have become a major problem. Floods have contaminated water reservoirs that provide the capital with drinking water. Garbage removal has been hampered with the danger of outbreaks to follow over the next weeks.

Jatuporn Burutratna, director general of the Department of Water Resources (DWR), said that his agency would provide drinking water around the clock to everyone. Water supplies will also be made available at City Hall.

The Catholic Church is also mobilising to help flood victims. Caritas President Mgr Joseph Phibun Visitnonthachai, bishop of Nakhon Sawan, visited nine of the 13 provinces in his diocese affected by monsoon rains.

Carmelite nuns are among flood victims after they were forced to flee their convent.

The rising water level is a disaster, the prelate noted, but the emergency can teach us something. “We must make sacrifices for love and in the service of others, be they rich or poor,” he said, because cooperation is a “source of hope”.

“This crisis brings us back to the values of faith,” he explained because we can see Christ as “an example and teaching”.

In Thailand’s old capital of Ayudhaya, about an hour north of the capital, Fr Tanu Jetsadapongpakdee is working with residents of local villagers to distribute aid.

Basic items are given to everyone, Catholics but also Muslims and Buddhists, irrespective of faith. “We are all brothers and sisters,” the clergyman said.
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