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Bangkok scrambles to repair floodgate

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-10-14

Thai officials rushed Friday to repair the Khlong Ban Phrao barrier separating the capital city of Bangkok from floodwaters that have covered vast swathes of the country and killed at least 283 people since late July.

AP - Soldiers, public works crews and volunteers raced to repair a key barrier protecting Bangkok’s northern suburbs from approaching waters Friday, part of a desperate bid to defend Thailand’s capital from the country’s worst floods in decades.

Repair work to the Khlong Ban Phrao Floodgate was being expedited and area residents were asked to remain on alert for flooding. Gov. Peerasak Hinmuangkao of Pathum Thani province, just north of Bangkok, said the gate would be repaired by the end of the day.

Erroneous reports Thursday said that flood waters had broken through the gate, leading the government to order residents to urgently evacuate. The Flood Relief Center later apologized for the “misinformation,” saying the evacuation order had been reversed and that damage to the gate had been overestimated.

At least 283 people have been killed in Thailand since late July by floods and mudslides that have devastated rice crops and shut dozens of factories.

Bangkok has been mostly spared so far, but some surrounding areas have been inundated and authorities fear that flood waters rushing from the north will combine with rains and high tides in the next few days to flood the city.

Buildings in many areas of the capital have stockpiled sandbags, while others have built protective walls from cement and cinderblocks.

Government spokesman Wim Rungwattanajinda said the main canals east and west of Bangkok will be dredged by Friday to allow more water to flow from flooded northern provinces. He said authorities are also digging canal shortcuts to help drive water to the sea.

“This is the best method at the moment” to protect Bangkok, Wim told The Associated Press. “We are all working against time.”

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said the operations will allow the water to exit through three major rivers instead of just one - the Chao Phraya River which flows through Bangkok - as the government initially planned, and will therefore relieve the impact on the capital.

Some 8.2 million people in 61 out of the country’s 77 provinces have been affected by the flooding, which has also halted production at many major factories north of Bangkok. Nervous residents have been stocking up on bottled water, rice, instant noodles, medicine and other essentials.
 

Date created : 2011-10-14

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