Bangkok Escapes Disaster, Millions Affected by Asian Floods

Posted October 17th, 2011 at 6:35 am (UTC-5)
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Thai authorities expressed relief Monday as floodwaters in the Chao Phraya River passed their crest stage and began receding without breaching the barriers protecting Bangkok.

Officials said early Monday that fears of widespread flooding throughout the city center have eased. However a spokesman for flood relief officials said an industrial park north of the city was evacuated when the water broke through a protective wall.

Officials said at an afternoon news conference that any continuation of recent heavy rains could still endanger the capital, and some wary residents are continuing to fortify the capital's flood walls with sandbags.

One resident said he will keep working until he is sure his neighborhood is safe.

Officials say more than 300 people have died in the country's worst flooding in half a century. In provinces north of the capital, thousands of people remain hungry and homeless in half-submerged towns.

Valerie Amos, the U.N. under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, said late Saturday that more than 700 people have died in flooding in Cambodia and Thailand.

The statement said that in Laos, the Philippines and Vietnam, homes, crops and vital infrastructure have been destroyed. Millions of people living in low-lying areas remain vulnerable to further destruction.

Amos said the U.N. stands ready to support national-led responses.