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Thailand facing its worst flooding in 50 yrs: 61 of 76 provinces, >8 million ppl affected, can take more than a month to recede

By WcP.Observer - Posted on 29 October 2011

Thailand is facing its worst flooding in 50 years

More than 300 people have been killed in floods throughout Northern Thailand from months of heavy monsoon rains. Local residents sit on a boat in floodwaters as they leave their homes with their animals and belongings in Bang Bua Thong in Nonthaburi province, suburban Bangkok, on Oct. 19, 2011.

Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University, Ayutthaya, submerged in water in 2011 flood

people wading through floodwaters on the main road of the ancient Thai capital of Ayutthaya, north of Bangkok, on October 11

Buddhist monks collect their belongings at a flooded temple in the ancient city of Ayutthaya, Thailand, on October 7.
Temple of Water
The 14th-century Siamese capital, listed as a UN World Heritage site, has been flooded for more than a week, according to the UN, which is sending a mission to Ayutthaya to survey the damage. "This is the worst flood in our historical site in 16 years," Somsuda Leeyawanich of the Thai Fine Arts Department told CNN. "We are very concerned that if the site is under water for more than 30 days, it may cause serious damage," she said. "The temples are over 400 years old." Since July, at least 224 people have died in Thailand's worst flooding in 50 years, according to Reuters.

Villagers paddle past an inundated leaning Buddha statue in Ayutthaya Province on October 10.
Head Above Water
About 61 of the Thailand's 76 provinces have been affected by the flood, which has impacted more than eight million people, according to CNN. The flooding has also spread to other Southeast Asian countries, covering an area of more than 190,000 square miles (500,000 square kilometers)—an area the size of Spain, CNN reported.

A mahout - or elephant keeper - stands on an elephant in Thailand's flooded Ayutthaya Province on October 13.
Submerged Elephant
Last week rising waters forced 15 elephants in the city of Ayutthaya to climb on top of their kraal, or enclosure, including 7 mothers with their babies, CNN reported. Currently food can be brought to the elephants only in small quantities via rowboats, and Thai officials fear that the animals - which need large amounts of food and fresh water daily - will go hungry, according to CNN.

Mother Nature steps up the pressure
As a mass of floodwater from the north reaches the city's outer defences, authorities are sounding less and less confident that Bangkok will be spared the flooding that has ravaged much of the country.

Flooding broke out across northern Bangkok yesterday as floodwaters from Ayutthaya and Pathum Thani stressed canals and flood barriers across the city.

Experts warned that worse is to come, as water from the Central Plains puts increasing pressure on the city's outer flood barriers and inner city canals, potentially leading to flooding across many major districts in the city.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra urged city residents to move their possessions and cars to higher ground, and cautioned that flooding could take as long as six weeks to subside within the capital.

About 113,000 people have been relocated to rescue shelters due to the floods. Authorities say 1,743 evacuation centres are open and able to accomodate over 800,000 people.

The situation could reach a crisis point from Friday to Sunday when tides in the Gulf of Thailand are scheduled to peak, which will slow the outflow of water from the capital to the sea.

Bangkok has been mostly spared from the floods to date. But this is sure to change as authorities announced last week plans to open sluice gates in the city, which could lead to widespread flooding in the capital but would also allow the massive pools of water to the north in Ayutthaya and central Thailand to drain faster into the Gulf of Thailand.

Officials were working to shore up flood barriers along Khlong Rangsit in Pathum Thani, but warned that flooding could reach Don Muang, including the government's Flood Relief Operations Command (Froc) at Don Mueang airport.

Residents outside of the main city flood wall should leave immediately to evacuation centres, as water levels will continue to rise.

Epic flooding in Thailand might not recede for more than a month
[Oct 23, 2011] Bangkok, Thailand (CNN) -- The worst flooding to afflict Thailand in half a century could take more than a month to recede in some areas, the Thai government said Sunday.

The country is also bracing for more high tides in the coming week, according to Thailand's Flood Relief Operations Command. High tides cause rivers to back up, subsequently raising water levels.

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said authorities are trying to drain water into the sea as quickly as possible, but the disaster has proved arduous. "I would like to apologize to the public because it has been difficult to make advanced notice about the floods," she said, according to the Thai News Agency. "There are many factors beyond our expectation. Informing too early could cause panic and mistakes could happen easily, but people should be alert and closely follow up the situation."

The government has set up more than 1,700 shelters nationwide, and more than 113,000 people have taken refuge inside. "Since the flooding situation might persist for four to six weeks in many areas of the country, the Government has prepared several plans to improve the living conditions in various evacuation centers," Thailand's government public relations department said Sunday. "The plans include occupational training and lesson teaching aimed at generating employment for the affected people after flood water recedes."

The government had hoped that strengthening flood barriers and widening canals would keep populated areas safe. But now the government is trying a different technique: opening floodgates to relieve pressure on dams and levees and send the water toward the sea. The decision to divert water through canals in Bangkok means parts of the city, and its surrounding suburbs such as Rangsit, are flooded.

By Sunday, diversion tactics used by the government starting to work in eastern Bangkok, where water is starting to recede. But areas west of the Chao Phraya River --- which has burst over its banks -- remain a concern.

The flooding, which follows months of monsoon rains, has already killed 356 people, with nearly 9 million others affected, authorities said. Overall damage from the floods could top $2 billion, with the worst yet to come as the waters destroy shops and paralyze factories nationwide, the Thai Finance Ministry said.

Thailand derives a significant portion of its revenue from tourism.

Many residents waded through dirty water in the capital in recent days as they made a desperate attempt to save their belongings. Rising water in Rangsit gave residents little chance to save what they could.

Some moved out of flooded homes by boat, or anything that could float. The rest waded through water with plastic bags balanced on their heads. Pets were tucked into coats or pushed inside boats. Children, meanwhile, seemed to struggle to stay on their feet against the fast-moving water.

The prime minister has urged all Bangkok residents to move their belongings to higher ground as government workers try to contain the flooding. Government spokeswoman Thitima Chaisaeng said the move was a precautionary measure.

To protect their cars, residents double parked along elevated highways, making it nearly impossible to navigate a city where traffic is congested on a normal day.

Thailand’s Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra appealed for unity among opposing political factions Wednesday to protect its residents from the surging floods ravaging the region. "We’ve been doing everything we can, but this is a big national crisis. On our own, we can’t get it done," Yingluck said, according to the Wall Street Journal. "We need unity from every side and we must set politics aside."

Hundreds of soldiers and volunteers have lined up in Bangkok to pile sandbags into dikes around the city to combat the surging floods, according to Voice of America. A Thai government official had warned that dikes surrounding industrial suburbs in northern Bangkok could have "complications" if not reinforced.

More than 300 people in Thailand have died and tens of thousands have been forced by the floods from their homes, The New York Times reported. Economically important suburbs have been devastated in the north of Bangkok, with many export businesses being wiped out.

United Nations officials estimate that at least 745 peole have been killed elsewhere in the Southeast Asia region, including in Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines. Cambodia has the second-largest loss of life resulting from the flood crisis, with at least 247 people killed.

Flood death toll in Thailand reported at 356
BANGKOK, Oct. 23 (Xinhua) -- The Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation on Sunday reported that 356 people were killed in flood-related incidents while two missing. Flooding still continues in 28 provinces in northern, northeastern, central and easten regions where some 2.4 million people are still suffering, according to the department reported on Sunday.

The country's most severe floods in over 50 years have affected at least 9.4 million people in 62 provinces, or four-fifths of the country, since July 25. Hundreds of highways and roads have been inundated while 18 north-bound trian routes suspended.

Thailand is among other Southeast Asian countries -- Cambodia, Laos, the Philippines and Vietnam -- which have been battered by heavy monsoon floods and tropical storms. According to estimation by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs issued recently, more than 700 people in the region were killed.

WHO: with flooding in Thailand comes an infectious disease risk
The floods in Thailand have been immense and experts say this could go on up to six more weeks. Hundreds of people have been killed, mostly from drowning, and tens of thousands have sought safety and refuge at crowded evacuation centers.

Now the World Health Organization has announced what many have expected, that hundreds of thousands may be at risk for infectious/communicable diseases.

The WHO proclaimed this warning Saturday though no outbreaks have been reported to date.

Maureen Birmingham, acting United Nations Resident Coordinator in Thailand told AFP: "The spread of communicable diseases such as diarrhea, respiratory illness and conjunctivitis among displaced flood victims in shelters was a key concern. In addition, flood-affected people also faced an increased risk of skin fungal infections and leptospirosis, a bacterial infection spread through contaminated water."

Diarrheal diseases are the number one cause of illness and death in emergencies that produce massive flooding.

Inadequate quality and quantity of water, substandard and insufficient sanitation facilities and overcrowding are the problems. Common sources of diarrheal disease (bacterial, parasitic or viral) outbreaks are polluted drinking water sources (from contaminated surface waters getting into incompletely sealed wells), shared water containers, water that is stored and contaminated by fecally soiled hands and contaminated foods.

Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that can be transmitted by contact with animal-urine contaminated water. Flooding facilitates the spread of the organism, because of the amount and proximity of rodents to humans on shared higher ground. It may be several weeks before symptoms appear before we know if this disease is an issue.

Then of course, there are the infectious diseases from overcrowding. When people are displaced from their homes and end up in crowded situations, many disease outbreaks can occur, particularly respiratory transmitted diseases like influenza.

Bangkok Travel Warning - Flood Deluge Imminent
[Oct 12, 2011] As Thailand battles against the worst flooding its seen in more than 50 years, local officials and foreign embassies alike are warning tourists that Bangkok’s flood defences could be overwhelmed in the next few days.

Speaking to reporters earlier this afternoon, Thai Deputy Prime Minister Kittiratt Na-Rong explained that it was looking more and more likely that the city would be swamped by flood waters flowing downstream from central Thailand: "We have to admit that we are in crisis. Everybody must be prepared and can’t be complacent. You should prepare what you will do and where you will be."

Floodwaters have devastated 60 of Thailand’s 77 provinces over the last couple of months, sweeping havoc across the nation and causing at least 281 deaths so far, while Thailand’s Ministry of Finance has slashed its economic growth forecast for 2011 from 4% to 3.7% as a result of the deluge, and said that the total bill for the disaster could be in excess of $3.9 billion.

Meanwhile, Bangkok has seen a spate of panic buying as city residents scramble to stock up on essentials to see them through the crisis. Supermarkets across the city have been cleaned out of basic supplies such as rice, noodles, bottled water and canned foods.

Bangkok On The Brink

For now at least, most parts of the Thai capital remain unaffected by the flooding, thanks to a mass mobilization of military personnel and volunteers to bolster flood defenses surrounding the city. Major tourist areas including Khao San Road, Silom and Sukhumvit Road remain above water, but already some outlying suburbs of Bangkok have been affected, including Nonthaburi and Pathum Thani. Numerous homes and businesses located near the Chao Phraya River further inside Bangkok have also experienced flooding, with water levels are expected to rise further in the coming days.

Thai officials are now racing against the clock to finish work on five drainage canals and three additional flood defense barriers in the next couple of days, before the crucial date of October 16 when high tides are expected to peak. The 16th through to the 18th are expected to be critical dates for the city, as high tides are forecast to coincide with yet more heavy rain in what is traditionally the wettest time of the year in Thailand. Low lying areas around Suvarnabhumi International Airport and those communities next to rivers and canals are said to be most vulnerable, although privately some government officials admit that the whole city could be overwhelmed.

Latest Bangkok Flood Updates

Foreign residents and tourists travelling in Bangkok are urged to keep a close eye on the situation over the next few days, and should be ready to evacuate the city if necessary. Furthermore, 21 foreign embassies have warned against all non-essential travel to the country while the danger of flooding remains.


Photos courtesy Christophe Archambault / AFP - Getty Images, Stuck in Customs @, Sukree Sukplang / Reuters, Pornchai Kittiwongsakul / AFP / Getty Images, Nicolas Asfouri / AFP / Getty, and Bangkok Post

It is common knowledge that they go through a rough rainy season every year, but this is indeed a serious situation going on. You know any help will do right now, so I was thinking there must be some "">donate car to charity
" campaigns that will help them restore their local activities after the flood.

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