Rising floodwater’s seeped into Bangkok’s Don Muang airport Tuesday, halting flights and threatening the main depot from flying emergency supplies to inundated areas in northern Thailand.
Bangkok’s main international airport, southeast of the city, was not affected. But Don Muang, located near flooded districts in the city’s northern suburbs, is the site of Thailand’s Flood Relief Operations Center and is being used to house thousands of displaced residents.
Late Monday, Bangkok’s governor warned residents along the banks of the Chao Phraya River to be on full alert as rainwater flooding vast areas of central Thailand bear down on the city. He said the worst is expected this weekend, when the water could spill over the levees along the river’s banks.
Two airlines operating domestic flights out of Don Muang announced they are shutting down operations there, and a railway officer Jaron Seranon said rising waters in the western suburbs could force a halt to train traffic to the country’s south.
“I’m worried because if floodwater’s reach a level as high as 15 centimeters [5.9 inches], it would be bad,” said Seranon. “We have to monitor day by day.”
Several industrial parks north of Bangkok have already been flooded, delivering a huge blow to Thailand’s manufacturing base. Shopkeepers and businessmen say they too will suffer if the trains are forced to shut down.
“If there is more floodwater, then trains won’t operate, passengers can’t use the train, I cannot make a living,” said Bangkok resident Hansa Artnoi.
The latest U.N. figures show flooding has killed 356 people in Thailand and almost 800 people across Southeast Asia. The U.N. says almost 2.5 million people are affected in Thailand and more than 8 million across the region.
The organization says widespread damage to rice paddies could lead to serious food shortages. it also warns that hundreds of thousands of people are at risk of water-borne diseases.