A daredevil in Thailand has been turning his adrenaline-chasing activities toward a good cause, dropping supplies to flood victims from above.
Vichai Tiyasan, 38, is a paramotoring enthusiast. So over the past week, he has been flying over flooded areas to drop dry food and other essentials on Sukhothai, one of 30 Thai provinces swamped by floods recently, Reuters reports.
Photos and videos of his airborne efforts have since gone viral on social media.
Tiyasan Says Flood Aftermath Is Getting Worse
A paramotor, or a powered paraglider, is made up of a back-mounted metal frame with a propeller. The propeller runs on a petrol-fueled motor. It looks like a large fan. The paramotorist can then steer the contraption through brake toggles, not unlike those on a parachute.
Reuters spoke to Tiyasan by phone about his relief efforts.
“The flood covers most areas of Sukhothai province. The situation is worse comparing to the past years,” he said.
Indeed, at least six people perished in the floods and two remain missing. Flood warnings remain in effect for areas along the Chaophraya River. That includes Bangkok, the capital.
In 2011, Thailand suffered its worst floods in half a century. Hundreds of people died. Entire industries were compromised. Parts of the capital also ground to a halt.
70,000 Homes Swamped in Thailand
The floodwaters following Tropical Storm Dianmu have already overrun an estimated 70,000 homes in Thailand. The country’s central region has been hit the hardest, The Guardian reports.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, soldiers put up barriers and sandbags. They are trying to save archaeological treasures and neighborhoods in Ayutthaya, which is about 40 miles north of Bangkok. And they reportedly have pumps and more sandbags ready should the river’s water level continue to rise.
Bangkok, formerly known as the Venice of the East, is built over marshland and sits about 5 feet above sea level. In years past, farmland and rice paddies in areas surrounding the capital would absorb floodwaters. But with urban expansion, much of that farmland no longer exists.
Over the weekend, rescue teams had to evacuate villagers from rooftops in one province northeast of the capital.
The Thai Meteorological Department is closely watching for other storms that may hit Thailand after next week. There is some concern about a repeat of 2011. But water levels are not yet near those peaks.