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PM's hopes over Thai flood drainage

Thailand's prime minister has said that she hopes the process of draining floodwater through Bangkok can be speeded up now that record high tides have passed.

Higher-than-normal tides pushing up the Chao Phraya River from the Gulf of Thailand in recent days have complicated efforts to drain the floodwater which has been surging through the city from provinces that have been submerged for up to two months.

The run-off from the country's worst flooding in more than half a century has put extreme pressure on the pumps, sandbags and dykes protecting Bangkok, though they have largely held and most of the capital remained dry.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said: "If there is no more additional water, the current run-off might not cause heavy flooding in Bangkok."

However, she noted there was still a massive amount of water that needs to pass through the capital's complex network of rivers, canals and tunnels as it makes its way to the sea.

Fifteen of Bangkok's 50 districts have now seen flooding, and people in six districts have been told to evacuate.

"The water that came in our neighbourhood was massive and had immense power," said 29-year-old Yibporn Ratanawit, who lives in Thonburi on the Chao Phraya's western bank. "It was like a nightmare. I think the Thonburi side will all be gone eventually, because the water has not stopped rising."

While much of the government's attention in recent days has been focused on protecting Bangkok, Thailand's political and economic heart, there have been growing complaints that those in areas north of the capital, some of whom have been underwater for weeks or months, have been forgotten.

Ms Shinawatra sought to address those concerns with a post on her Facebook page, which read: "The government is concerned about every individual who has experienced flooding, as well as those facing a lengthy period of floods. The government has emphasised with the provincial governors to exhaustively take care of the people."

The floods, which began in late July and were exacerbated by heavier than usual monsoon rains and a string of tropical storms, have killed 381 people and affected more than a third of the country's provinces. The water has destroyed millions of acres of crops and forced thousands of factories to close.

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