Thais race to shore up Bangkok defenses against floods

Bangkok braces for more flooding
Bangkok braces for more flooding

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Bangkok braces for more flooding 02:23

Story highlights

  • Devastating Thai floods have killed 281 people; two people are missing
  • An area the size of Spain is affected by the floods in Southeast Asia
  • Official: About one to 1.2 billion cubic meters of water reaching Bangkok daily
Workers in Thailand are racing against time Thursday to shore-up protective floodwalls in Bangkok with sandbags and mud to stop the country's devastating floods from engulfing parts of the capital.
So far, 281 people have been killed and two people are missing in Thailand, according to the government website Thaiflood.com. Some 61 of the country's 76 provinces have so far been affected, impacting more than eight million people.
More than 500,000 square kilometers -- an area the size of Spain -- are affected by the floods in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos, according to CNN meteorologist Jenny Harrison.
Following significant floods in Thailand's northern and central plains, Bangkok is now being hit, where officials and citizens are scurrying to beef up prevention measures as waterways, including the main Chao Phraya River, become bloated by rising water.
"Between seven and eight billion cubic meters of water a day is being released from the Bhumibol dam in the north of the country, which is heavily affecting provinces like Nahkon Sawan and Ayutthaya," government official Wim Rungwattanajinda tells CNN.
"From that, about one to 1.2 billion cubic meters of water is reaching Bangkok every day."
Moon, rain causing Thai river 'backup'
Moon, rain causing Thai river 'backup'

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    Moon, rain causing Thai river 'backup'

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Moon, rain causing Thai river 'backup' 02:24
Floodwaters devastate Thailand
Floodwaters devastate Thailand

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    Floodwaters devastate Thailand

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Floodwaters devastate Thailand 03:07
Flood walls reinforced to protect Bangkok
Flood walls reinforced to protect Bangkok

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    Flood walls reinforced to protect Bangkok

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Flood walls reinforced to protect Bangkok 02:25
Wim believes that inner city Bangkok will not flood and is confident the defenses that have been built will hold, though he's worried about a low weather depression that's expected to arrive in the next couple of days.
"It's a race against time, as Bangkok is only two meters above sea level," reports CNN's Paula Hancocks.
"Of particular concern is that the waters that are coming down from the north may merge with predicted high tides from the south, expected from Thursday onwards."
Hancocks also reports that the country's economy may be badly affected from the floods. Manufacturing areas just north of Bangkok have been particularly hard hit hard, including a Honda factory that has been submerged ruining hundreds of cars.
The giant Rojana Industrial Park has also halted operations for the time being, director Amara Charoengitwattanagun told state-run news agency MCOT, and the facility may be further damaged if the flooding worsens. One plant in the park, Single Point Parts, evacuated all workers from the premises and built flood prevention embankments around its building.
"The Thai finance ministry says overall damage from the floods could be more than $2 billion, with the worst yet still possibly to come," Hancocks says.
Meanwhile, the UNESCO-listed Ayutthaya historical park, where the ruins of the old city of Ayutthaya are located, has been submerged since last week, according to local authorities.
"This is the worst flood in our historical site in 16 years," said Somsuda Leeyawanich, from the Thai Fine Arts Department. She said the water level in the park is almost three meters, compared to levels of around 80-90 centimeters during the floods of 1995.
"We are very concerned that if the site is under water for more than 30 days it may cause serious damage," she added. "The temples are over 400 years old."