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Thailand

Bangkok won't be flooded, says Thai PM

Reuters/Chaiwat Subprasom

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has told Bangkok residents not to panic as residents moved their belongings and stockpiled food for fear of flooding in the capital. The water level is not rising, she insisted, after The National Flood Relief Centre warned water up to one metre deep was expected in Bangkok's northern suburbs.

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"The water level is stable and not increasing. So I would like to ask people not to panic," Yingluck told reporters on Friday.

The flood relief centre issued its warning on Thursday after a dyke burst in the north of the city. It advised people living in one-storey buildings to evacuate.

That created traffic jams as residents moved their cars and belongings to higher ground. Many also stockpiled bottled water, instant noodles and other necessities, although calm returned later.

But, although heavy rains lashed the capital Friday, Bangkok's Deputy Governor Pornthep Techapaibul said that the main challenge was from people overreacting.

"The problem is not from water but it's the people,” he said. “People who are panicking and frustrated that their houses were flooded while others' were not."

Workers rushed to repair the dyke and the authorities say they will dredge and drain canals to allow more water to flow through. Five-thousand worker are on standby to drain water from the city’s rivers, canals and tunnels.

Central Bangkok is protected by flood walls and the defences of the Chao Phraya River.

The country’s worst floods for decades have cost at least 289 lives and about 110,000 people have sought refuge in shelters. Twenty-six of 77 provinces are affected but conditions in central Bangkok and most top tourist sites are normal.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has cancelled the annual Water Festival because of floods that have killed 247 people and swamped 390,000 hectares of rice paddy.

The funds due to be spent on the country’s most popular festival, due to take place in Phnom Penh on 9-11 November, should be spent on the 270,000-plus families affected by the floods, Hun Sen said.

He also said that high water in the Tonle Sap river would mean a “high risk” in the capital.

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