Thai capital on alert for flooding as heavy rains expected
BANGKOK (AP) — Authorities in Thailand warned Wednesday of possible serious flooding in the capital and other parts of the central region from heavy seasonal rainfall expected through the rest of the week. The situation is being worsened by a large volume of water moving downriver from flooding in northern provinces and from discharges from dams filled to capacity.
Bangkok has been experiencing flooding since Monday as torrential rain poured into the city, with about 16 centimeters (6.3 inches) recorded in one area over 24 hours. However, the flooding had eased in most areas by Wednesday morning.
City officials said they are taking several measures to cope with the flooding, including placing sandbags along riverbanks, preparing water pumps at drainage tunnels, and having military trucks on standby to transport commuters.
Bangkok Deputy Governor Tawida Kamolvej said if rainfall levels are high in coming days, many areas will be vulnerable because it would take hours to drain water into the already swollen Chao Phraya River that runs through the city.
“If traveling to and from work will be difficult, we would ask companies and agencies to be flexible about working hours, or if possible, to consider working from home to help reduce traffic congestion,” Tawida said at a news conference.
Many parts of Thailand were already flooded from seasonal monsoon rains when the remnants of Tropical Storm Noru, which earlier tore through the Philippines and Vietnam, swept through during the last week of September. The Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation said more than 41,000 households and at least 22 provinces remain affected by flooding, though conditions improved in a few cities such as Chiang Mai.
The disaster agency continued to forecast heavy monsoon rains in many parts of the country, as authorities warned that Bangkok and other provinces along the Chao Phraya River could face more severe threats as the volume of water flowing from upstream is more than can be contained in the river and dams.
At least four of the country’s major dams are over capacity and many more are approaching the critical level. To control the overflow, authorities are forced to release water, normally into rivers, which raises their levels.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha visited the northeastern provinces of Khon Kaen and Ubon Ratchathani on Tuesday and promised aid and compensation to residents who were evacuated to shelters after the Moon River overflowed and inundated the area.