Thailand flooding threatens Bangkok

Monday, October 25, 2010

BANGKOK - Bangkok authorities prepared Monday to evacuate vulnerable communities along the rising Chao Phrya river from floods that have claimed 38 lives in central and northeastern Thailand.

Heavy monsoon rains since Oct 10 caused floods in 32 of the country’s 77 provinces, affecting about 2.4 million people in 940,673 households, according to the National Disaster Relief Centre.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva estimated damage to crops, homes and infrastructure at 10 billion baht (about $333 million).

The flooding has been mostly limited to central and northeastern provinces, but as large dams in the affected region reached capacity, irrigation officials have been forced to release water into the Chao Phrya river, which flows through Bangkok.

At the same time, the Gulf of Thailand is at high tide, forcing seawater up the river.

Irrigation department authorities have been monitoring the river’s level in Ayutthaya province, 90 km north of Bangkok.

“Water is flowing into the Chao Phrya at Ayutthaya’s Bang Sai district at about 3,275 cubic metres per second, but it could get higher due to the northern runoff and high tides during this period,” department deputy director general Weera Wongsaengnak was quoted as saying by the Bangkok Post.

He predicted the runoff surge would reach Bangkok Wednesday.

Authorities in the capital have told 1,000 families living on the banks of the river and canals to prepare for evacuation.

The river was measured at two metres in Bangkok Sunday, still below the 2.5-metre protection walls in the city. But a heavy rain in the coming days could cause the river to breach its banks.

The city was hit by floods in 1986 and 1995. The local government has since invested heavily in flood-prevention measures.

Filed under: Accidents and Disasters

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