Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 13 July 2014

Bangkok governor warns of floods

Residents carry a crocodile that was killed at a flooded residential area in Bangbuatong district of Nonthaburi province in Thailand (AP)

The governor of Bangkok has issued a dramatic warning to residents of the Thai capital to prepare for floodwaters to roll deeper into the city from suburban areas already choking under the deluge.

In a live televised address, governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra said a massive amount of water has moved faster than anticipated and was expected to flood the Don Muang area just north of the city proper - where Bangkok's old airport is located and now being used as headquarters for the anti-flood effort and a shelter for evacuees.

Water flooded traffic lanes near Don Muang airport, though one lane was still passable.

Thai television showed residents in the area leaving their houses with luggage. Air operations were normal there, however, as well as at Bangkok's main international airport on the other side of the city.

Mr Sukhumbhand said the water would threaten five other districts as well as it barrels toward the city's more developed areas.

On the warning list was the Chatuchak district, popular with tourists and locals both for its Weekend Market of handicrafts and myriad other wares.

"Now all indications point to only one conclusion: a critical problem will happen," Mr Sukhumbhand said.

He said residents of the six districts should move their belongings to higher ground, and the sick and elderly should be evacuated to shelters set up by the city. There was no indication that the capital's inner city residential and business districts were yet at risk.

Mr Sukhumbhand's warning stood in stark contrast to general reassurances given earlier in the day by the Flood Relief Operations Centre of prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra's government. It announced that the situation was under control and could be expected to improve.

However, less than an hour after Mr Sukhumbhand's warning, the centre's chief, justice minister Pracha Promnok, came on the air to read a brief statement saying it would support the city's relief efforts.

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