Tue, Oct 25, 2011 - Page 1 News List

Crocodiles add to Bangkok flood fears

AFP, BANGKOK

Millions of people in the Thai capital nervously prepared for advancing and seemingly unstoppable floodwaters yesterday after residents in areas deemed most at threat were urged to leave.

Bangkok authorities warned that large volumes of water were flowing toward the low-lying capital and were closing in on six of Bangkok’s 50 districts, including areas just north of the city center.

Adding to concerns was the danger posed by crocodiles, after a number of the reptiles escaped from flooded farms. Some of the animals had been captured in one province north of Bangkok.

The WHO also told people to beware of electrocution and snakebites while warning that infections and water-borne and communicable diseases, such as diarrhea, were key concerns for flood victims.

“If water keeps coming into those six districts the situation may reach dangerous or critical levels,” Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra said in a televised address.

His administration late on Sunday called on residents in these areas who faced “potential dangers to lives and properties” to evacuate to emergency shelters, with priority given to the young, sick and elderly.

The announcement came after the Thai government said it would set up a distribution center in the capital to help replenish empty supermarket shelves in preparation for the floods, which have so far largely spared the city.

Other parts of the country have been plagued by three months of heavy monsoon rains that have killed more than 350 people and damaged the homes and livelihoods of 9 million people.

The six Bangkok districts now of pressing concern include Chatujak, home to a giant weekend market popular with tourists, and Don Mueang, where the city’s second-largest airport is currently doubling up as a flood refuge center.

“If anything affects Bangkok, it will have an impact on the whole country,” Sukhumbhand said.

Hospitals in flood-risk zones have been instructed by the public health ministry to stockpile medicines and other supplies to last as long as three weeks.

In the city center, residents stocked up on food and bottled water and piles of sandbags were mounting around buildings.

Authorities are desperately trying to drain billions of cubic meters of water from upcountry out to sea through rivers and canals in and around the city by opening sluice gates in the capital — a risky strategy.

A major test for the city is expected between Friday and Sunday when seasonal high tides flow up Chao Phraya River, meeting run-off water from the north.

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