High Tide Aggravates Flooding in Thai Capital

Posted October 29th, 2011 at 5:25 pm (UTC-5)
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APExpress 4 – 10/29/2011 3:32:00 PM – AP-APTN-1930: Thailand Floods 6

ReutersUS 3 – 10/29/2011 12:46:00 PM – BC-ASIA-OCT29-THAILAND-H

Floodwaters, aggravated by high tides, continue to ravage Thailand's capital Bangkok.

The city's northern districts were submerged Saturday as well as one third of the countryside. The high tides are expected to last till Monday.

Buildings in the city center are surrounded by sandbags, but ankle-high water from the Chao Phraya River has reached the area around Bangkok's iconic Grand Palace and other tourist attractions.

Tens of thousands of residents have fled the area on bamboo rafts, vans, army trucks or on foot, heading for higher ground in the south. Many have flown out of the city.

The flooding that began in July, the country's worst in 50 years, has already claimed more than 380 lives. The material losses are yet to be determined.

Thailand's prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra said in her weekly radio address Saturday that the waters are peaking this weekend and will start receding next week. The water has already receded in the central region.

The Pentagon says Thailand had asked a U.S. destroyer to extend its stay at a main port to allow two U.S. helicopters to survey the flood.

The Bank of Thailand Friday cut its projections for the country's economic growth almost in half, slashing it from 4.1 percent to just 2.6 percent. The central bank said the flooding is affecting both the country's agricultural and industrial interests.

The government says the flooding has already swamped nearly 10,000 factories in the country, leaving 660,000 workers in danger of losing their jobs. One financial services firm, Moody's Investors Service, says the damage from the disaster could total $6.6 billion, the equivalent of 2 percent of the national economy.