Thailand floods: Bangkok flood defenses are holding
Thailand's prime minister expressed cautious optimism Saturday that the flood threat to Bangkok may be receding. But flooding from high tides may still pose a problem for a city just six feet above sea level.
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In Pictures Thailand's worst flooding in 50 years
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Experts were also cautiously optimistic central Bangkok's network of embankments and sand-bag walls would hold.
"We have to conclude that it's under control but we still have to do as much as we can to maintain the dikes," said Anon Sanitwong Na Ayutthaya, an academic on the government's flood team.
Seree Supharatid, director of the Disaster Warning Center at Rangsit University, said coordination between city, provincial and national authorities was critical.
"If the government can manage the pumping system smoothly, with good cooperation, we may see the water receding by early November," he said.
Although Yingluck expressed confidence inner Bangkok could be spared, the city's suburbs faced growing misery.
Authorities expect the whole of Thonburi district, on the west bank of the Chao Phraya, to be inundated within three days and Yingluck said the water would remain high due to a lack of canals. Seventeen roads across Bangkok are closed.
The Pinklao district of Thonburi, packed with restaurants, shops and homes, was under waist-deep water. Some residents waded through the flood, lugging televisions and furniture.
People in Bangkok's northern Sai Mai district sat on rafts built of plastic bottles and wooden crates. Shop owners perched on sandbags, staring out at roads turned into rivers.
Water levels appeared to have risen in the riverside Bang Phlad district, also to the west, with many people using boats to make their way through the rubbish-strewn flow.
The Chao Phraya is rising as much as 2.6 metres (8.5 ft) above sea level over the high tides and many governments have warned their citizens against non-essential travel to the city of 12 million people. Singapore Airlines said it was suspending its Bangkok flights from next Tuesday to Thursday.
Authorities have called for evacuations in four of Bangkok's 50 districts. Japanese engineers have been flown in to advise on how to protect the main international airport and the subway. Authorities have built a 23.5 km (15 mile) dike around the airport and have reassured travelers it would hold.
Bangkok accounts for 41 percent of Thailand's $319 billion economy. But even if the inner city is spared, the deluge in industrialized provinces to the north has had a global impact.
Thailand is the second-largest exporter of computer hard drives and Southeast Asia's biggest auto production hub. Global prices for hard drives are rising due to a flood-related shortage of major components used in personal computers.
Drive manufacturers have raised prices by 20 to 40 percent since water poured into factories this month, Chuck Kostalnick, senior vice president of international electronics distributor Avnet Inc, told Reuters.
"The word we're getting is that prices are going to continue to go up," he said. "This isn't going to be a one-time event."
(Additional reporting by Martin Petty, Robert Birsel and Alan Raybould in BANGKOK and Noel Randewich in SAN FRANCISCO; Editing by Robert Birsel and Paul Tait)