Oct 20 2011
The flood threat to Bangkok — while many areas elsewhere in Thailand are already suffering from devastating inundation — seemed to edge up yet another notch on Thursday, with authorities told to selectively open the city’s floodgates to help drain water into the sea.
“This problem is very overwhelming. It’s a national crisis so I hope to get cooperation from everybody,” Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said as she announced the decision, according to the Bangkok Post.
Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra said the canals crisscrossing Bangkok — which was once dubbed the Venice of the east but long ago concreted many of its waterways — can handle the water, though the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration warned flooding could occur if barriers spring leaks, CNN reported. The head of the national flood centre Pracha Promnok meanwhile told Channel 3 that city officials had been pumping water out overnight in the Samsen and Makkasan areas, which are just north of the royal palace and other prime tourist sites, Reuters said.
“If we can’t pump water out on time, there is a chance Bangkok may be swamped,” Promnok was quoted as saying. At the time of writing, these areas remained safe.
Seven districts were put on alert yesterday, and at the time of writing the governor had reportedly ordered 11 more evacuation centres to be set up in the Don Muang and Lak Si areas, according to Richard Barrow citing TAN on Twitter. Reuters earlier reported that shelters for as many as 45,000 people were being prepared as a precaution (estimates of the city’s population go as high as 12 million when including the outlying suburbs).
The above photo is courtesy Hamish Chalmers, who evacuated from his home with his family but wrote about the lead up to his home flooding here.
The Bangkok Post has a map of the expected water flows here.
If you’re planning a trip to Thailand, as we’ve already suggested in earlier posts on the floods, do stay on top of your government’s advice — your travel insurance may not be valid if you travel against governmental advice. Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which tends to err on the conservative side of warnings, did on Thursday issue a warning to its citizens not to travel to Bangkok unless “absolutely necessary”, Asia One portal reported.
Bangkok’s main airport Suvarnabhumi is operating as normal.
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