Floods threaten Bangkok, warns PM
Thailand's prime minister is warning that rising floodwaters which have wreaked havoc across the nation are now threatening the capital, Bangkok.
Yingluck Shinawatra spoke as the death toll from the worst monsoon rains in decades rose to 253.
She said the flooding - which has severed rail links with the north, shut dozens of roads and swamped ancient Buddhist temples in the city of Ayutthaya - has reached a crisis level.
Bangkok has so far been spared serious damage, but many fear it could be inundated as large amounts of water flows from submerged northern rice fields toward the Gulf of Thailand.
In a radio message, the PM said authorities are hoping to ease the crisis by installing up to 400 water pumps along the Chao Phraya River, which snakes through Bangkok, to help push water to the sea. Seven canals will also be dug on the outskirts of the city, she said.
She said government agencies are struggling to cope because "the water volume is extraordinary and is beyond expectations".
"It is now going to have a direct impact on Bangkok," she said in a televised speech.
Bangkok governor Sukhumbhand Paripatra said the situation in the capital - where authorities have piled thousands of sandbags along the banks of rising rivers - is under control.
But he said he has ordered city officials to prepare for evacuations if necessary.
The city government has also been stocking emergency supplies of food and water.