Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Thai floods reach northern Bangkok

Thailand’s worst floods in half a century have reached the capital Bangkok, as officials struggle to control a torrent of water that is threatening to engulf the nation’s political and economic heart.

City officials ordered the evacuation of six northern districts as the floodwaters approached.

Yingluck Shinawatra, Thailand’s recently elected prime minister, said on a visit to the government’s flood relief operations centre on Monday that she hoped the water level in the capital would not rise above one metre.

But, with Ms Yingluck having consistently taken a more optimistic tone than the governor of Bangkok, who represents the opposition Democrat party, residents said they were preparing for the worst and have been stocking up on food and water. Some supermarkets have run out of supplies.

At least 350 people have been killed, several million forced out of their homes and big industrial estates and key infrastructure destroyed. Monsoon rains have pounded south-east Asia since July, wiping out large swaths of rice crops and raising the spectre of “serious food shortages”, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation. more