Bangkok Flooding Overruns Defenses


Bangkok’s flood defenses continued to fall on Wednesday as floodwaters pressed farther into the city after forcing the closing of the domestic airport. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra warned that there could be as much as five feet of flooding in some areas.

The prime minister spoke after declaring a five-day holiday that would shut down much of the city’s business to allow residents to cope with the encroaching flood. Schools were closed until Nov. 7.
The death toll in three months of heavy rains and flooding rose to 366 on Tuesday, with 113,000 people reported to be living in shelters and 720,000 to have sought medical attention for flood-related ailments.
Floodwaters entered the domestic air terminal, Don Muang, in one of the most striking failures in the effort to defend Bangkok, the capital, from runoff flowing from the north. The international airport, Suvarnabhumi, is on higher ground, and it continued to function normally.
In describing a worst-case situation, Ms. Yingluck said in a televised address that the water being flushed through the city to the Gulf of Thailand could back up against a high tide expected at the end of the week, increasing the threat to low-lying areas.
She told residents to move their belongings to upper floors and prepare to evacuate if necessary. She said the government would protect the royal palace, power stations and other vital locations.
In addition to seven northern districts that have been the most affected by the flooding, the governor of Bangkok, Sukhumbhand Paribatra, said 13 districts along the Chao Phraya River were now also at risk as water began overflowing its banks.
Officials said the government’s flood relief command, based at the domestic airport, was safe and would remain in place.
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Seth Mydans

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