Thai Floods Ease in North, Still Threaten Bangkok

Posted November 7th, 2011 at 4:30 am (UTC-5)
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Floodwaters continued to threaten central Bangkok Monday even as clean-up efforts begin in some areas north of the city where waters have receded.

Authorities said the death toll in Thailand's worst floods in a half century has gone over 500, with drowning blamed for most of the deaths. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said her cabinet will meet Tuesday to begin considering a reconstruction plan valued at more than $3 billion.

For many Bangkok residents, transportation remains the biggest problem, with people turning to boats, buses and military vehicles to make their way through affected areas.


One resident said it took her six hours to travel to her son's home.

She said the trip normally takes her just one hour.

Maureen Birmingham, head of the local office of the World Health Organization, said relief efforts are complicated because different parts of Thailand are at very different stages of flood threat and recovery.

She said government officials are meeting with the United Nations and other partners to begin planning recovery efforts.

The flooding began in northern Thailand in July with two typhoons and unusually heavy monsoon rains that swamped as much as 10 percent of the country.

The vast sea of water gradually moved southward until it reached Bangkok, where authorities hope an elaborate network of flood barriers and canals can channel it into the sea without flooding the city.

Despite the barriers, residential neighborhoods and several large industrial parks on Bangkok's northern suburbs have been flooded, forcing officials to sharply downgrade the country's short-term economic prospects.