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Historic Phuket Old Town Submerged in Worst Flooding in 50 Years

Tropical storm Sonca leaves Phuket Old Town underwater and disrupts traffic

Phuket Old Town, a popular tourism destination known for its traditional Sino-Portuguese shophouses, experienced the worst flooding in 50 years this past weekend, with floodwaters reaching up to one metre deep in some areas. Heavy overnight rainfall began on Saturday evening, October 14th, and continued into the early hours of Sunday, causing flash floods and widespread traffic chaos across the island.

The historic district, a magnet for both Thai and foreign tourists, saw several key areas submerged, including the Charter Bank Intersection, Thep Kasattree-Thalang Intersection, Klang Road, and the Clock Tower roundabout. Phuket’s oldest bookshop, Seng Ho, along Suthat Road was also affected by the rising waters, with the alleyway between it and the nearby 7-Eleven store becoming particularly inundated.

Roads in the Patong Beach area of Krathu district were also underwater, while flash-flooding cut the main road leading from Krathu’s Tambon Kamala to downtown Phuket. Thailand’s National Water Command Centre (NWCC) is monitoring 24 dams nationwide, as heavy rain has brought their reservoirs close to capacity. The NWCC will continue to monitor the situation even though the Thai Meteorological Department has announced that the Sonca tropical storm has weakened into a low-pressure mass.

Many parts of the southern island resort province were flooded, causing widespread traffic chaos, with water levels varying from knee-deep to waist-deep in certain locations. Governor Narong Woonciew said that disaster prevention and mitigation centres and local administrations have been instructed to mobilize manpower and equipment to help flood-hit residents.

Udonporn Kan, chief of the provincial disaster prevention and mitigation office, reported that the flooded areas included tambons Thep Kasattri, Si Sunthorn, Patong, Kamala, Choeng Thalay, and Pa Khlok in Thalang district. A landslide occurred on the uphill slope to Patong mountain in tambon Patong, with fire department staff working to remove the fallen earth from the road. Fallen power posts also prompted the Provincial Electricity Authority to temporarily cut off power pending repairs.

Pol Col Pisit Chuenphet, the Thalang police chief, warned that Thep Kasattri road, both in-bound and out-bound, is only passable for big vehicles. Phuket International Airport urged passengers to leave for the airport 3-4 hours earlier than their scheduled departures to avoid missing their flights due to the traffic disruptions caused by the flooding.

Nakhon Phuket Municipality’s public relations office issued an announcement that water in Klong Bangyai canal had risen due to the heavy rain, causing flooding in multiple areas. Residents in need of assistance or sandbags to build flood-prevention walls were advised to call 076-211111, 199 or Phuket Municipality number 1132. The 3rd Naval Area also deployed four rapid-response mobile teams to help flood-hit residents in the Old Town area, the Tha Rua shrine, and Satri Phuket School.

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