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Flood Threat Easing as Waters Recede



Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday told the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) to use the capital's canals to direct runoff water out to the sea


Thailand’s floods are gradually receding and the clean-up is beginning in many parts of the country, but decisions over who gets wet and who stays dry continue to be a source of trouble for Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

The inner center of Bangkok has been spared the worst of the inundation, thanks in large part to a 15-kilometer-long sandbag barrier snaking through northern sections of the city and some vigorous pumping on the protected side.

Tensions are running high on the other side of the great wall of Bangkok, though, where people believe they have been sacrificed to spare key tourism and business sites further downtown. On Monday, authorities agreed to allow local residents in the badly flooded Don Muang district to open up a gap in the so-called “big bag” floodwall which, while not drastically lowering the chest deep waters in the neighborhood, at least allowed polluted water to circulate after weeks of stagnating.

Ms. Yingluck, meanwhile, used her Facebook account to urge people to “tolerate the flooding situation and turn unity into power to struggle through the crisis”.

The stand-off might get worse, though, especially as water levels in other parts of the country continue to fall after killing at least 562 people and inundating large swaths of Thailand’s manufacturing capacity. As residents in one affected area see other communities get some relief by dismantling floodwalls, some of them are lobbying to take down flood barriers, too.

Residents in Khlong Sam Wa have also torn down floodwalls, raising the water levels threatening the Bang Chan and Lat Krabang industrial parks in eastern Bangkok.

Another potential trouble spot is western Bangkok, across the Chao Phraya River which runs through the center of the capital.

Ms. Yingluck warned Monday that water levels could take longer to fall there, largely because the network of drainage canals there aren’t as sophisticated as those on the other side of Bangkok.

In one area, people living around the Rama II highway leading to southern Thailand, meanwhile, blocked the road Monday as part of their campaign for more government help for their flooded communities. Bangkok city leaders responded by providing them with more pumps.

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