Updated: November 2, 2011 18:03 IST

Toll surges to 400 in Thai floods; Bangkok put on alert

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Elderly Thais are evacuated at the Bang Khae Home Foundation in Bangkok. Photo: AP
Elderly Thais are evacuated at the Bang Khae Home Foundation in Bangkok. Photo: AP

The Thai capital of Bangkok has been put on alert with reports that flood waters were advancing deeper into the city from the northern outskirts, even as the death toll from country’s worst floods in decades surged above 400 today as public anger stepped up against authorities.

The sluice gate and a dyke failed to limit inflows to save the inner city. The water level on the key Rarm Intra Road, both inbound and outbound, continued to rise and the road became impassable yesterday.

The flood has now killed 427 people, an increase of 42 from the figure reported a day earlier, authorities said. So far no deaths have been reported in Bangkok.

The long stretch of Sukhumvit road whose either sides are dotted by high rise apartments where most of the expatriates including a sizeable Indian population live, has so far not been hit by the flood waters.

The long road itself is the prime shopping district with shopping malls and hotels.

Most supermarket shelves are stark and empty with people in a hoarding frenzy mode.

Prices of vegetables, food, rice, eggs have all shot up in the past few weeks.

Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra has given himself wide-ranging control over flood operations in the city and is to send council workers backed by police to repair the controversial Khlong Sam Wa sluice gate.

Mr. Sukhumbhand’s move is apparently in defiance of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s order to widen the sluice gate to one metre.

She took the action after nearby residents destroyed part of the sluice gate to speed up the drainage of their areas.

Meanwhile, Deputy Governor Thirachon Manomaipiboon said all 50 districts in Bangkok are at risk of flooding as a result of the Khlong Sam Wa incident.

Bangkok, known as the Venice of the East, has a network of canals called Klongs.

“Bangkok has 2,000 canals and there are many underground tunnels that are connected with each other.

When the water is released to Saen Saep canal, it will pass through all 50 districts,” Mr. Thirachon warned.

Meanwhile, three major Japanese factories producing motorcycles in Thailand cannot confirm when they will be able to resume production following the floods.

Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki have experienced trouble in securing parts from the suppliers whose facilities were damaged by flooding.

The Thai Yamaha Motor plant at Bang Na-Trat Km 21 in eastern Bangkok remains unaffected but production was suspended 10 days ago. Thai Suzuki Motor also suspended motorcycle production as parts were unavailable and many workers could not reach the factory in heavily flooded Thanyaburi in Pathum Thani.

So far, the flood has not damaged its plant.

“We cannot confirm when we can resume production until we know the full extent of recovery of the suppliers,” said Lertsak Navavimarn, general manager for sales and marketing.

Thai Honda Manufacturing suspended production at its plant in Lat Krabang, Bangkok on October 11 and the suspension will last at least until Friday, Bangkok Post said.

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