Thursday, November 3, 2011

One fifth of Bangkok flooded

Bangkok Post

One fifth of Bangkok is now under water as Thailand's worst floods in half a century spread through the capital, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) said on Thursday, amid fresh warnings to evacuate areas threatened by the flood.

Many people, however, have ignored the advice, choosing to stay in their inundated homes despite risks including electrocution and disease as well as shortages of food and drinking water.

"In terms of area about 20 per cent of the capital is under flood water, but nobody knows the exact population affected," BMA spokesman Jate Sopitpongstorn said.

"There are 11,000 evacuees living in temporary shelters across the city."

While the centre of the capital remains dry, some northern and western parts have been submerged in dirty water that is waist-deep or higher in places.

Science and Technology Minister Plodprasop Surasawadi said people in Bangkok and surrounding provinces would have to live with the existing flood situation for at least another two weeks.

The government's Flood Relief Operations Centre (Froc) chief of operations said Thais would have to accept that climate change is occurring and it will cause the rainy season to come one or two months earlier than usual.

"From now on Thailand will have 25 to 50 per cent more rain or an additional 50 billion to 100 billion cubic metres of rainwater per year. Normally, the country has about 200 billion cubic metres of rainwater a year," Mr Plodprasop said.

"Because of climate change, we will have to amend the agriculture calendar. We may have to plant rice sooner and look for new rice strains suitable for the changing weather conditions."

The tourism calendar would have to be also adjusted, he said.

Froc director and Justice Minister Pracha Promnok said inner Bangkok might not be safe from flooding as it is difficult to stop water flowing in through the drainage system.

Gen Pracha said people in all districts of Bangkok should be aware of the potential for flooding as northern runoff continues moving down on the capital.

There were still about one billion cubic metres of water outside the north of Bangkok and this huge volume would likely spread to various districts of the city soon, he said.

The minister said he was worried about the water flowing from Prem Prachakorn and Bang Bua canals as it could enter other districts through the drainage system.

"I cannot guarantee which areas of Bangkok will be safe from flooding but I can assure the people that the government will do its best to protect the inner city," the Froc director said.

Nationwide 437 people have been died as a result of the flooding, but so far there have been no official reports of deaths in Bangkok.
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