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Thailand

Bangkok’s flood defences hold

People walk in a flooded street in central Bangkok. Receding floodwaters north of Bangkok have reduced the threat
People walk in a flooded street in central Bangkok. Receding floodwaters north of Bangkok have reduced the threat REUTERS/Kerek Wongsa

Floods engulfing parts of the Thai capital should start to recede soon, the prime minister said Saturday after barriers along Bangkok’s swollen main river prevented a disastrous overflow.

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The city of 12 million people was on heightened alert because of a seasonal high tide that was expected to coincide with the arrival of runoff water from the central plains, where people have endured weeks of flood misery.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who has previously warned the floods could last for weeks, said the authorities had sped up the flow of runoff through canals in the east and west of the capital.

Yingluck, the sister of fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, has been in office for barely two months and her administration has faced criticism for giving confusing advice about the extent of the flood threat.

For a third day running there was minor flooding in Bangkok’s riverside areas, including by the Grand Palace, but the high tide of 2.5 metres (eight feet) above sea level was lower than feared and most of the city was dry.

Within Bangkok, residential areas in the northern outskirts of the city, as well as on the western side of the Chao Phraya river have so far been the worst hit, with water waist-deep in places.

The government warned residents in the west of the capital to stockpile tap water because supplies will be limited at times as a result of contamination from rubbish and industrial plants.

It also announced it was moving its emergency flood relief centre from the city’s second airport Don Mueang after rising water led to a power blackout.
 

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