Saturday, October 15, 2011

Defenses bolstered as floods threaten Thai capital

Viparat Jantraprap and Jason Szep in Reuters: Rescue workers reinforced make-shift walls and sand-bags around Bangkok on Saturday as the worst floods in half-a-century threatened Thailand's low-lying capital after swamping entire provinces in the north.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra sought to reassure Bangkok's 12 million people they would largely escape floods that have swept over a third of Thailand since July, killing at least 297 people, causing about $3 billion in damage and turning villages and industrial parks into lakes.

The north, northeast and center of Thailand have been worst hit and Bangkok -- much of it only two metres (6.5 ft) above sea level -- is at risk as water overflows from reservoirs in the north, swelling the Chao Phraya river that winds through the densely populated city.

Yingluck said Bangkok is well fortified after authorities raised embankments at the three outer areas. Despite official assurances, residents stocked up on bottled water, instant noodles, rice and canned goods, emptying shelves in some major markets. Many parked their cars in elevated garages, or piled sand-bags in front of shop-houses and homes....

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