Thai PM hopeful of floods easing
Published 29/10/2011 | 05:22
Thailand's prime minister says she is optimistic the country's worst flooding in a half-century will mostly spare Bangkok, as some dykes overflowed but the capital's defences otherwise held firm during critical high tides.
Waters were receding from many inundated areas of Thailand - leaving 381 people dead - but the misery remained for several communities still under water and feverish efforts to protect Bangkok continued as run-off water from the north pushed through on its way to the Gulf of Thailand.
Rescuers evacuated a heavily pregnant woman stranded in the swamped neighbourhood of Thonburi in the northern outskirts of the city.
The network of dykes defending against the city's main Chao Phraya river broke down in at least two neighbourhoods as a record high tide pushed up from the gulf.
Water spilled into streets as city workers and troops rushed to shore up concrete walls with sandbags.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra told residents of Bangkok to be "confident" as she headed into a government crisis meeting, saying there may be overflow into some areas but that it would not cause any great damage.
"We will recover soon," she said.
Bangkok's governor, Sukhumbhand Paribatra, said the Chao Phraya reached a record level of 2.53 metres, just above what he previously said were dyke heights of 2.5 metres.
However, the tides were expected to ease below critical levels after Monday, and officials have suggested that the flooding situation will improve after that.
Floodwaters have submerged entire towns across the country's heartland and shuttered hundreds of factories over the last two months. In the past week, the waters have reached into outer neighbourhoods of the capital, while its central districts of skyscrapers, apartment towers and glitzy shopping centres have remained dry.