Friday, November 11, 2011

Will Bangkok's flood defenses protect its heart?

The commercial heart of Thailand's capital is still at risk of flooding, with the next 10 days likely to be crucial in the battle to keep dry.

So far the Central Business District, or CBD, has been shielded by a series of flood defenses backed up by huge pumps which suck the floodwater seeping down from the north of the city into the canals. From here the water is funneled into the main Chao Phraya River, where officials say it then fans out toward the sea.

Floods in Thailand have killed more than 500 people since July, affecting about a third of the nation's 77 provinces. The country of 67 million is also home to electronics manufacturing and automotive companies that have had to stop production because of the flooding, causing a ripple effect through the industry.

According to Seri Supparathit, a water engineer who has acted as consultant for the government during the crisis, Bangkok's central business district will survive the watery onslaught as long as the pumps keep working.

"If we can maintain the system for the next 10 days, then we can keep the CBD free from floods," he said. more