Traffic clogged roads out of the Thai capital yesterday, as tens of thousands of people fled ahead of a high tide expected to worsen floods that have inundated factories and prompted foreign governments to warn their citizens to stay away.
The main concern is that Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River will burst its banks over the weekend during the unusually high tide that began yesterday. Buildings across Bangkok have been sandbagged for protection, and some vulnerable streets were nearly deserted.
Thailand’s worst flooding in half a century, caused in part by unusually heavy monsoon rain, has killed 377 people since mid-July and disrupted the lives of nearly 2.2 million, until now mostly in the north and central provinces.
TV footage showed cars and trucks bumper-to-bumper leaving the city and the main airport’s departure lounges packed, but the traffic department said it could not put an exact figure on the size of the Bangkok exodus because much of its monitoring equipment was under water.
Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said she was considering a proposal to dig channels into some roads in eastern Bangkok to drain water into the Gulf of Thailand, an idea backed by the chairman of the Thailand unit of Toyota Motor Corp, whose factories have been badly flooded.
“We need to look into several details on whether it works,” Yingluck told reporters.
The Meteorological Department warned residents living along the Chao Phraya they could face rising waters. Roads around the Grand Palace are partially flooded along with some streets in densely populated Chinatown.
Yesterday morning, on a street in front of the Grand Palace normally bustling with tourists, a 2m snake was caught by a motorcycle taxi driver. Residents have also had to contend with crocodiles escaping from flooded farms.
While many of the inner-city streets of Bangkok remained dry, the suburbs continued to struggle.
In the riverside shantytown of Bang Phlad, small wooden homes were knee-deep in foul-smelling water with rubbish floating on the surface. Residents carried belongings above their heads, struggling against the current of water pumped back out to the river.
At the district’s Yanhee hospital, two dozen emergency room doctors and nurses shovelled sand into sacks to fortify a 1m wall protecting the building as water levels rose in a nearby canal brimming with trash.
In Nonthaburi Province bordering Bangkok, walls of sandbags were collapsing under the weight of surging floodwaters. A policeman dressed in shorts, flip-flops and a vest directed traffic on a megaphone as water gushed out of drains.
Yingluck’s government declared a five-day holiday from Thursday to allow people to leave. Roads out of the city to the flood-free south were jammed. Many were heading for the seaside town of Hua Hin and the eastern resort city of Pattaya, where hotel rooms and homes to rent were scarce.
The economic toll continued to pile up across Thailand, Southeast Asia’s biggest auto production hub and a major base for multinational firms, many of which face supply and production disruptions after the floods shuttered at least seven huge industrial estates north of Bangkok.
The Bank of Thailand nearly halved its projection of economic growth this year to 2.6 percent from July’s 4.1 percent estimate, and said the economy would shrink by 1.9 percent sequentially in the December quarter because of the floods.
Daihatsu Motor Co, which makes mini-vehicles for Toyota Motor Corp, said it would reduce work to produce Toyota-badged cars at two Japanese factories next week due to a shortage of parts from Thailand.
However, insured losses are likely to be at a manageable level and will not trigger widespread solvency problems, credit-ratings agency Fitch Ratings said.
Many Thais are uninsured and Japanese non-life insurers in Thailand will bear the brunt of losses at the factories.
Fitch, citing Thai insurance regulatory data, estimated the country faced about 140 billion baht (US$4.5 billion) in losses, including damage at the seven industrial estates. About 80 percent of that is covered by Japanese insurers, but they are unlikely to be badly affected with about 85 percent of their coverage ceded to foreign reinsurers, Fitch said.
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
They stand as eyesores to most passers-by and potential public health risks to authorities, decaying buildings wrapped in tangles of exposed wire, studded with protruding leaky plastic pipes, vegetation billowing from cracks and terraces where particulates from polluted air have accumulated over time. With skyscrapers and ultramodern developments on every side, some of these “nail houses” are also sitting on land worth millions of dollars in Shenzhen’s inferno of a property market, where new-unit and second-hand home prices rival London. In battles over land and development, the nail house phenomenon has become widespread throughout China over the past two decades, with owners
BEYOND CULTURE: The US State Department was expected to announce that the Chinese government-funded institutes would have to register as foreign missions US President Donald Trump’s administration is increasing scrutiny of a long-established Chinese-government funded program that is dedicated to teaching Chinese language and culture in the US and other nations, the latest escalation of tensions with Beijing. The US Department of State was expected to announce as soon as yesterday that Confucius Institutes in the US — many of which are based on college campuses — would have to register as “foreign missions,” according to people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified. The designation would amount to a conclusion that the institutes are “substantially owned or effectively controlled” by
SHOW OF SOLIDARITY: The publisher’s ‘Apple Daily’ newspaper has had to raise the number of copies printed from 70,000 to 550,000 to meet a huge surge in demand They have occupied Hong Kong’s central business district, marched by the hundreds of thousands through the territory’s streets and endured tear gas and pepper spray in pitched battles with riot police. Hong Kong’s pro-democracy supporters are now wielding a new protest weapon: their stock-market trading accounts. To show support for Jimmy Lai (黎智英), the publisher and outspoken government critic who was on Monday arrested under the territory’s new national security legislation, Hong Kongers have been piling into shares of his media company Next Digital. The result: a more than 1,100 percent surge in two days that propelled the stock to a seven-year