Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has said that the country's floods may take up to 6 weeks to recede, with Science and Technology Minister Plodprasop Suraswadi saying that it will take 20 more days to drain floodwaters into the Gulf of Thailand.
In her weekly radio address, Ms. Shinawatra also promised that aid will be stepped up to those whose lives have been disrupted, including 113,000 people living in temporary shelters after being forced to abandon submerged homes.
Although much of Bangkok has escaped unharmed, residents were preparing for the worst on Sunday, after Ms. Shinawatra urged all residents to move their valuables to higher ground. Since Monday morning, residents were on high alert as officials battled a race against time to pump water to the sea and defend the business district.
Officials announced they may not be able to prevent flooding in Lat Krabang and Bangchan industrial estates to the north and east of Bangkok, risking more disruption to supply chains and cuts in production for foreign firms operating in the country.
The economic toll is expected to be high. The central bank has said
growth might be around 3 percent this year, not 4.1 percent as it had
previously forecast. Some economists say growth in could be less than 2 percent this year. The floods have already caused billions of dollars in damage and put nearly 700,000 people temporarily out of work.
According to Mr Suraswadi, seasonal monsoons came six weeks early and have lasted longer than usual, filling reservoirs, dams and fields with 30 per cent more rainfall than average. At the same time, the government kept too much water in dams over the summer in a bid to save water for rice cultivation, he said.
Report: Thailand Floods Expected To Last Six More Weeks [TIME, 22 October 2011]
Report: 'Thai floods may last 6 more weeks' [TODAY, 23 October 2011]
Report: Thais tense as floods set to swamp more of capital [Reuters, 24 October 2011]
Flooding may cause food shortages
As a result of the flooding, communities in parts of South East Asia are now facing "serious food shortages" said the United Nations. Devestated rice paddies and other crops have disrupted food supplies in the region since September.
“Given that flooding in Thailand is not really getting any better, we see that going forward, there could be some room for prices to go up,” said Lynette Tan, an analyst at Phillip Futures Pte.
Report: Flooding in Southeast Asia May Cause Food Shortages, UN Says [Bloomburg, 23 Ocober 2011]
More than 100 dead in Myanmar
In neighbouring Myanmar, nearly 100 were killed in flash floods in the centre of the country, a government official, who did not want to be named, told reporters.
The state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper also mentioned the flood toll, but kept its numbers to three dead and 80 missing. The paper also said that officials had begun distributing emergency relief, as well as water to avoid an outbreak of cholera.
According to the United Nations, more than 750 people have been killed across Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and the Philippines in total.
Report: Myanmar flash floods kill more than 100 [AFP, 20 October 2011]