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Thailand wades through worst flooding in decades

Thailand's floodwaters have already killed 269 people and submerged some 3.4 million acres of farmland to the north. And Bangkok's estimated 12 million residents are bracing for another storm.

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The floods have already been widely-described as the worst in Thailand's modern history, though some of the affected regions are close to riverbanks and on floodplains, so experience flooding from time to time. A 1988 flood killed over 600 people, and in 1995, 231 died in flooding.

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Neck-deep water

On Sunday, rescuers evacuated the Ayutthaya hospital after levees gave way, swamping parts of the city in chest and neck deep water. There, Thai Red Cross volunteer Pipath Cheangoi watched military load elderly patients onto big-wheel trucks outside the hospital gates. He told the Monitor that “it is a big shock for Thailand that this town is flooded.”

Back in Bangkok, the government has set up a flood relief base at the city old international airport where even political rivals are working together. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, the opposition leader, conferred on flood aid and prevention in front of the cameras.

Downstairs, hundreds of volunteers packed clothes and stacked crates of food and water for distribution to some of the estimated 8.2 million Thais affected by the flooding. Mam Singprasong, a teacher at Phetkasem Management Technology College, supervised a group of her students ladling spicy chicken broth into sachets to send to flood-hit areas. “Some of the girls asked me if they could come here to help,” she told the Monitor. “Some have family in the country, in the flooded areas.”

Not far from that airport, Bangkok's notoriously slow traffic sloshed through waters already welling-up on the Vibhavadi Road, as businesses and restaurants stacked more sandbags along the pavement.

Elsewhere in the city, at the country's main international airport, flood protection walls have been raised to a height of up to 3.5 meters, acting director Somchai Sawasdipol told Agence France Presse, who added: "I am confident [that we can prevent floods at Suvarnabhumi] but we will not be careless."

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