News / Asia

Thai Floods Force Closure of 17 Factories in Industrial Zone

FILE - Workers look on behind flood protection barriers built at their factory at Amata Nakorn industrial Estate in Chonburi province, east of Bangkok, Oct. 9, 2013.
FILE - Workers look on behind flood protection barriers built at their factory at Amata Nakorn industrial Estate in Chonburi province, east of Bangkok, Oct. 9, 2013.
Seventeen factories were temporarily shut on Monday in a major Thai industrial zone dominated by foreign companies, after flood waters blocked nearby roads, a senior official said.

The official did not identify the stricken plants at the Amata Nakorn Industrial Estate, however, a sprawling manufacturing zone that is home to more than 500 factories, located 114 kilometers east of the capital, Bangkok.

The 17 factories were shut after the workers proved unable to reach them and the navy has been asked to help pump out the water, Wibun Krommadit, Amata's chief marketing officer, said in a statement.

“There is flood water outside the premises and on some surrounding roads, blocking entry for workers who are unable to easily get to work,” said Wibun.

Nearly half the factories in the industrial estate are operated by Japanese firms.

Pervasive flooding

Floods have spread across more than half of Thailand's provinces this year, but the government has ruled out any repeat of the devastating floods of late 2011.

Those floods were the worst in half a century, causing massive disruption to industry and global supply chains, and slashing economic growth to just 0.1 percent in 2011.

Some facilities at Amata Nakorn, spread over 3,020 hectares, produce parts for major Japanese automakers. Besides auto parts, Thailand is the world's largest producer of hard-disk drives and a key maker of electronic components.

The estate was using more than 100 water pumps to speed drainage and the situation had improved from the weekend, with levels in many areas dropping by 15 centimeters to 20 centimeters, added Wibun.

Flood waters have receded in much of Thailand over the past week, but some remain trapped in parts of the eastern industrial belt. Authorities were confident the situation was under control.

“If there's no more heavy rain, we expect the flooding situation to ease considerably within the next two days,” said Khomsan Ekachai, governor of Chonburi province, where the Amata Nakorn estate is located.

Floods this year have hit 47 of Thailand's 77 provinces, killing 76 people, disaster prevention officials say.

More than 3 million people have been affected by flooding since July.

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