BANGKOK: — Thai authorities upcountry and in the capital are braced for a major blow from tropical storm Ketsana, which has intensified to typhoon status, and is moving towards Thailand’s Northeast and North, Interior Minister Chavarat Charnvirakul said Tuesday.

Having ordered the authorities in the northern and northeastern regions to be on alert for possible flash floods, Mr Chavarat said the Interior Ministry had allocated Bt50 million from its emergency budget to each province to help flood victims.

Meanwhile, Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra said the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) will keep Bangkokians updated on the weather condition in Bangkok.

The updates include the amount of rainfall and flood-proned areas, he said, adding that announcements will be made via radio, television and traffic signs so that residents will avoid entering flooded areas, move their valuables to higher grounds and prepare themselves in better manners.

In a bid to protect Bangkokians affected by heavy rains, the BMA has set up mobile emergency units to visit flood-impacted various areas and provide drainage pumps, temporary accommodation, medical teams and other facilities.

Mr. Sukhumbhand also said that the BMA would help repair and clean damaged homes after the floodwaters recede.

He instructed the heads of flood-prone districts, in particular the eastern metropolitan area and Thon Buri, to urge community leaders to brace for possible flooding.

The governor himself will be at the emergency relief centre to inspect the authorities response to flooding.

The BMA has launched its Hotline 1555 to receive complaints from flood-hit residents.

Meanwhile, in the southern province of Songkhla, fishermen in the Gulf of Thailand started sailing for shore after a warning was issued by the Meteorological Department.

The department earlier announced that strong winds and waves would likely be higher than two metres due to tropical storm Ketsana which was moving across the South China Sea and expected to enter Thailand’s northeastern provinces of Mukdaharn and Ubon Ratchathani via neighbouring Laos.

Meanwhile, customs officers in the northeastern province of Nong Khai warned ferry boat and motor raft operators plying between Bung Kan District and Laos against overloading with cargo and passengers to avoid possible accidents during the heavy rain and strong winds.

— TNA 2009-09-29