Freezing weather kills people, livestock in Thailand

PHOTO: The Nation

Freezing weather kIlls humans, livestock, waves destroy tap water system

AS RESIDENTS in Nakhon Si Thammarat's Pak Phanang and Hua Sai districts yesterday suffered from a water shortage after storm surges damaged their village water system, the cold spell in upper Thailand claimed three more lives in the provinces of Phitsanulok, Nakhon Ratchasima and Nakhon Phanom.

Pak Phanang's Tambon Tha Phraya resident Paiboon Sangkhapaitoon - who had left home since the last rainy season last year to stay at his older sister's home several metres away-said the waves this week also threatened to destroy his sister's house and now they have nowhere else to go. He lamented that they were also suffering from a water shortage as the village water supply system had been damaged by waves and all water jars were flooded with seawater. He said they had no choice but to purchase drinkable water from city merchants.

The strong waves have also stopped people from going out to fish so they are also suffering from a loss of income, a source reported.

Meanwhile, two bodies swept ashore at Tambon Moung Ngam of Songkhla's Singhanakhon district yesterday morning and were believed to be workers from a fishing trawler that had sunk on Tuesday near Koh Noo and Koh Maew. Three of the trawler's workers had been rescued, while two were missing. Separately, Surat Thani province yesterday had officials monitor wave-risk spots in seven districts - including Tha Chana, Chaiya, Don Sak, Koh Samui and Koh Pha-ngan - though the seas appeared calmer, allowing island-hopping ferries to operate as normal. The first three districts were also declared disaster zones.

The cold spell has also been claiming lives. In upper Thailand, 71-year-old Chamnan Arirat was found dead in his bed in Phitsanulok's Muang district yesterday morning, and relatives believe he succumbed to hypothermia. In Nakhon Ratchasima's Muang district, 58-year-old Sunthorn Sikmai died possibly from a cold-induced heart attack on Tuesday night after he reportedly drank alcohol before going to bed. In Nakhon Phanom's Pla Pak district, 77-year-old Boonreung Taya was found dead at home yesterday as temperatures dropped to 9 degrees Celsius, the coldest in the province in five years.

The cold spell has not just affected humans, but also livestock and other animals. In Chaiyaphum province, where the temperature dropped to between 5 and 6 degrees Celsius, a large batch of piglets belonging to farmers in Phakdi Chumphon, Nong Bua Rawe and Thep Sathit districts died from being exposed to bitterly cold conditions. Hence, many farmers installed light bulbs and set up bonfires to warm up the pigpens.

In Ubon Ratchathani's Warin Chamrap district, 21 farmers claimed that 400 tonnes of fish raised in floating baskets along the Mun River had died due to the cold spell, resulting in Bt26 million worth of damages.

Farmer Wan Chanthawee said her fish in eight baskets worth Bt600,000 died just days before the harvest, so she ended up getting just Bt30 per kilogram for fish that had just died, while those that had died for a longer period had to be fermented or dried, which only earned between Bt10 and Bt20 per kg.

District chief Kittipong Lilatsa-nga-ngam said the fish had died due to a lack of oxygen.