BANGKOK (AP) — Thai authorities are building sandbag barricades in the capital Bangkok to protect it from the worst floods in decades that have already killed nearly 270 people across the country.
Thailand has been hit by its worst floods in five decades. Reuters reports that although the capital has only seen minor flooding in the past weeks, officials fear that conditions will worsen after October 13. High spring tides are expected to block water from the Chao Phrava River from flowing into the sea, potentially causing massive floading in the Thai capital.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said Monday that government workers have two days to build three major water barricades to prevent flooding in Bangkok before runoff from the north reaches the capital. Unusually high ocean tides are expected to worsen the flooding.
Although Thailand has been hit by floods in the past, analysts argue this time the damages might be more severe. According to The Wall Street Journal, Thailand's Finance Minister Thirachai Phuvanatnaranubala said the country's central bank estimates that the flood damage could reach $2 billion.
"The key difference to us is that this time round the direct damage to the industrial sector seems to be worse than before, as many of the industrial estates in the central region have been hit hard, with factories reportedly having to halt operation," The Wall Street Journal quotes from a Credit Suisse report. Reuters reports that 198 factories already have been forced to close in the flood-stricken province of Ayutthaya after water breached a wall of sandbags.
Thailand's Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department says 269 people have died, mostly from drowning, since tropical storms began hitting Thailand at the end of July. It says 8.2 million people in 60 of the country's 77 provinces have been affected by floods and mudslides, and 30 provinces are currently inundated.