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Thailand Floods Pass Peak, Raising Hopes in Bangkok


Flooded Bridge on West Side of Prapa Canal, just outside Bangkok border, October, 31, 2011.

Flooded Bridge on West Side of Prapa Canal, just outside Bangkok border, October, 31, 2011.

Thailand's rain-swollen Chao Phraya River passed its peak stage Monday, raising hopes that central Bangkok will be spared the flooding that has already inundated much of the city's northern and western suburbs.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said the government is now focused on repairing several ruptures in the city's flood barriers where water still is seeping through.

"Today Bangkok residents might feel that the water level hasn't gone down because in some canals the broken barriers haven't been fixed, so the water comes in," said Yingluck. "So we've speeded up the repair at several spots. Last night we asked the private sector to help out so there are a few spots we're rushing to fix. Once the problem is solved we can be less worried."

She said once those repairs are made, residents should be able to begin to relax.

However, residents in areas outside the flood barriers remain deeply frustrated as the water continues to pour through their streets and into their homes.

One resident of a district north of Bangkok said that in his neighborhood, the water still seems to be rising.

"The water level has not receded, it keeps rising, not receding. It will rise in the morning from 9 to 10 am, it will rise and will not recede.''

He said he does not know when it will recede.

Months of flooding across central Thailand have sent massive amounts of water southward toward the capital, its last obstacle on the way to the sea. The flood peak in Bangkok has coincided with unusually high tides which have pushed water back up the Chao Phraya River.

The combination has strained the city's flood barriers to their capacity, creating leaks that have sent ankle-high water into downtown streets around Bangkok's iconic Grand Palace and other tourist attractions.

Tens of thousands of residents have fled the area on bamboo rafts, vans, army trucks or on foot, heading for higher ground in the south. Many have flown out of the city.

The flooding that began in July - the country's worst in 50 years - has already claimed more than 380 lives. The material losses are yet to be determined.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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