Five-day holiday as Bangkok residents flee floods

October 27th, 2011 - 4:48 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangkok, Oct 27 (IANS) Thailand has declared a five-day holiday to allow residents of this capital city to flee before the waters come flooding in.

The Thai authorities ordered the five-day holiday so that Bangkok residents leave the capital as flood approached, BBC reported.

People thronged bus and train stations and roads leading out of the capital were jammed by thousands trying to flee.

The floods are a major test for Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra who took office just two months back.

The five-day holiday is from Thursday till Monday in Bangkok and in 20 provinces affected by the flooding.

The toll of widespread floods in Thailand has climbed to 373 with two missing, authorities said Wednesday.

The deluge still prevails in 26 provinces in central and northeastern parts of the country, affecting at least 2.4 million people, reported Xinhua.

Widespread and longstanding floods which were inflicted by heavy monsoon rains and tropical storms have since late July lashed 62 provinces in almost every part of the country except the South, affecting some 9.4 million people.

It became clear that Bangkok, the country’s capital, will not be able to escape the worst floods in 50 years when the prime minister warned Bangkok residents Tuesday night to brace for flooding.

The premier admitted that permanent floodwalls and temporary embankments might not be able to withstand the massive inundation. It is likely that even central and inner zones of the city will be affected, she added.

“Those areas along Chao Praya River and floodwalls along the banks will be at the highest risk,” said Yingluck in a televised speech.

Bangkok residents living along Choa Praya River have been warned that the Oct 27-31 high tide would raise the river level to as high as 2.6 meters above mean sea level, which is higher than the city’s concrete floodwall of 2.5 meters. It is, therefore, expected to see water overflowing banks along the Chao Praya River.

Actually, parts of Bangkok including Don Mueang, Sai Mai and Lak Si districts in the north and Bang Phlad district near the central have been already flooded.

On Tuesday, water entered Don Mueang Airport where the government set up Flood Relief Operations Center (FROC) and shelter for over 4,000 flood victims. As the water on the road in front of the airport kept rising, the centre had no choice but to start evacuation of those flood victims on Tuesday afternoon.

Budget airlines such as Nok Air and Orient Thai also suspended their services at Don Mueang Airport and shifted to Suvarnabhumi International Airport after the runways were inundated.

Flooding challenges are there as massive water of about 4,000 million cubic meters from central Ayutthaya province are reaching Bangkok.

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