Some success in Thai flood relief, but Bangkok tense

Saturday, 22 October 2011 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Reuters) - Thai officials reported progress in diverting floodwater round Bangkok into the sea on Friday but some people in the capital were still warned to move to higher floors as the government struggled with the worst flooding in 50 years.

After trying to hold the line for a week, the government decided to open some canals on Thursday to allow water to run through the inner city, which carries the risk of inundating some districts but relieves the pressure on dikes.

The government’s flood crisis centre said people in parts of Don Muang and Laksi districts, in northern Bangkok, should move belongings to higher floors. The crisis centre is itself located in the old city airport in Don Muang.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has come under fire for her management of the crisis, which was building even before she took office in early August and looks set to cost industry more than $3 billion and will hit economic growth.

Soldiers have played an active role in shoring up dikes and helping people relocate and, with Bangkok in danger, Yingluck has put an additional 50,000 armed forces personnel and 30,000 police on standby to help in relief work.

But she is resisting calls to invoke a state of emergency, which would mean deploying the army on the streets.

“It would ruin investors’ confidence, which is quite weak already,” Yingluck told reporters at the crisis centre.