Monday, 24 October 2011

Thailand Floods —mid-to late 2011

I regret to write that Thailand has been suffering the ill effects of flooding for most of 2011. In the first half of the year the southern regions of Thailand were flooded. Now, in the second half, it is the north and central regions that are suffering.

Since the middle of the year the Chao Phraya River, the main river of Thailand, has been carrying an ever increasing amount of water, due to heavier than usual monsoonal rains. This River runs 400kms from central Thailand southwards to and through the capital of the Kingdom, Bangkok, and then discharges into the Gulf of Thailand.

The floods began in the northern province of Chang Mai mid-year, but became serious in the province of Nakhon Sawan—the point of origin of the Chao Phraya River. Since then over 300 people have been killed to date, billions of dollars of damage has occurred as houses, buildings and industrial estates have been flooded. The main roads leading north from Bangkok have been closed to traffic since mid September.

The Thai government and various governmental instrumentalities have taken steps to deal with this situation, however, there have been a number of criticisms of the government. These include accusations that the central government is willing to sacrifice the provinces around Bangkok,  by unreasonably diverting flood water into these provinces, also that the flood prevention and maintenance procedures have been neglected, and an overall lack of planning and expertise.

As at late October it appears as if Bangkok will now be flooded. There is now minor flooding to the north of the city, and the riverbanks along the city have already overflown 10m or more. For a week or so around this time there is a high tide, which decreases the outflow of the River, thus exacerbating the floods.

There have been the usual range of human interest stories. Many people, 100,000s(?) have been displaced and are living in temporary shelters setup at various points in the Kingdom. There are stories of pet crocodiles escaping, though I would expect some of these to be from crocodile farms.

Websites to keep track:

This flood has been described as the most serious in 50 years. Five decades ago Thailand was a very different place, an agricultural nation, with Bangkok a tiny city, with few large buildings. If the capital is severely flooded the economic health of the Kingdom will suffer.

Best wishes.

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