ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Flood disaster in one-third of Thailand
On Wednesday Thailand declared a third of its provinces to be disaster zones, as auto giant Toyota called a halt to work after production was affected by the country's worst flooding in decades.
The government's move aims to speed up relief operations, as the floods have left at least 281 people dead and damaged millions of homes and livelihoods in more than two months.
"The government has announced that all provinces affected by the floods are critical disaster areas, allowing governors to exercise more authority to issue materials and manage budgets," deputy premier Yongyuth Wichaidit said.
Currently 26 out of 77 provinces are affected, while the capital Bangkok is bracing for a large amount of run-off water to reach the city in mid-October, when high tides will make it harder for the flood waters to flow out to sea.
Officials have bolstered flood defenses at the main airport and other areas to shield the city of 12 million people, a number of whom have been stocking up on sandbags, non-perishable food and other essential items.
Areas just north of the capital have already seen water up to several metres deep. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said that those living outside the beefed-up defenses needed to prepare themselves for flooding.
"If inner Bangkok is flooded, it will only flood a little, but we should be concerned for those who live outside the barriers," she told the press on a visit to a flood relief operations centre at Bangkok airport.
The prime minister met King Bhumibol Adulyadej on Wednesday to discuss the crisis.
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