Bangkok, Thailand — Thai authorities are rushing to build sandbag barricades in the capital to protect it from the worst floods in decades that have already killed nearly 270 people across the country.
On Oct. 10, 2011, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said that government workers have two days to build three major water barricades before runoff from the north reaches Bangkok. Unusually high ocean tides are expected to worsen the floods.
The Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department said 269 people have died, mostly from drowning, since tropical storms began hitting Thailand at the end of July. It said 8.2 million people in 60 of the country’s 77 provinces have been affected by floods and mudslides, and 30 provinces are currently inundated.
Yingluck said she didn’t know if Bangkok would be protected from the flooding.
”It is really hard to tell because it’s difficult to predict the volume of water,” she told reporters. ”But I insist if we can complete the three main water barriers within the next one or two days, Bangkok will be safe.”
The government planned to use 1.5 million sandbags to build the barriers but still lacked more than 100,000 as of Monday.
More than 200 factories forced to close
In Ayutthaya province to the north, flooding forced more than 200 factories in two industrial zones to shut, including Japanese automobile giant Honda, whose production plant suffered water damage.
Floods also inundated Thailand’s eastern neighbour Cambodia, where at least 207 people have died since August, when waters from the Mekong River and mountainous areas began rushing into lowland areas, said Nhim Vanda, deputy chief of the National Committee for Disaster Management. He said the dead included 83 children.
Although Cambodia’s death toll was lower than Thailand’s, proportionately it was much higher, since it has less than one quarter the population of its richer and bigger neighbour.
The floods have affected 1.2 million people and damaged more than 1,000 schools and 400 Buddhist temples, Nhim Vanda said. He said the waters also swept away some 600 houses and destroyed 395,000 acres (160,000 hectares) of rice fields.
The flooding is the deadliest to hit Cambodia since 2000, when 374 people were killed.
Hundreds of people have been killed across Southeast Asia, China, Japan and South Asia in the last four months from prolonged monsoon flooding, typhoons and storms.
Source: The Canadian Press