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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs     8  October  2011                    

Floods reaching Bangkok

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Thailand's prime minister warned Friday that Bangkok was under threat from the country's worst floods in decades as the authorities stepped up efforts to protect the capital and key industrial areas.

"The flooding situation is now considered a serious crisis," Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said in a nationally televised address.

"It is going to directly affect Bangkok."

Homes, roads and factories are already inundated just north of the low-lying capital, which has so far escaped major flooding, but more storms are expected in the days to come.

Many residents in affected areas have ignored the government's appeal to evacuate to safe areas, preferring to stay and guard homes submerged by the rising waters, which have left 252 people dead.

The authorities raced to put up flood walls alongside canals and rivers on Bangkok's northern outskirts as huge amounts of muddy water flow down river after more than two months of unusually heavy monsoon rains.

"Nothing could be worse than the current situation, but the most important thing is to prevent flooding in Bangkok and two industrial estates" north of the city, said Science and Technology Minister Plodprasop Suraswadi.

A key test is expected in mid-October, when large amounts of run-off water reach the capital and high tides make it harder for the floods to flow out to sea.

"Every canal in Bangkok is already at full capacity. If more rain comes it's likely that Bangkok will be inundated," Bangkok governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra said on television.

He said the city was preparing emergency stocks of food and drinking water, and setting up evacuation centers at schools.

The floods -- several meters deep in places -- have damaged the homes or livelihoods of millions of people in Thailand, particularly farmers, according to the government.

The military has been deployed to help victims and army camps are being opened to evacuees.

Japanese car giant Honda has suspended production temporarily after its parts factories was inundated in Ayutthaya, the ancient capital just north of Bangkok.

According to economists at the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, the damage amounts to 104 billion baht (US$3.4 billion) in the impact on buildings, crops, livestock, industry, tourism and trade.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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