Friday, October 21, 2011

Some success in Thai flood relief, but Bangkok tense

Panarat Thepgumpanat and Jutarat Skulpichetrat in Reuters: Thailand reported progress in diverting floodwater round its capital into the sea on Friday but the prime minister instructed troops to protect key buildings as her government struggled to contain the worst flooding in 50 years.

After trying to hold the line for a week, the government opened some canals on Thursday to allow water to run through the inner city, carrying the risk of inundating some districts but relieving pressure on dikes.

But the danger was far from over, with heavy rain forecast next week, raising the risk of an intensification of a crisis that has killed at least 342 people since July and devastated industrialized areas to the north of Bangkok.

The floods are the first real test for the politically inexperienced prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, whose government has had to form uneasy alliances with the military and political rivals to coordinate the relief effort. The problem was building even before she took office in early August and looks set to cost industry more than $3 billion, slashing economic growth this year....

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