Thailand’s Prime Minister said her country was facing its worst-ever natural disaster yesterday as the Chao Phraya river swelled to a record high, swamping tourist spots including the Grand Palace.
”The crisis we’re facing today is the most critical natural disaster that ever happened in Thai history,” Yingluck Shinawatra said, adding that she would welcome suggestions from the opposition Democrat Party. She asked for co-operation between parties instead of ”political games. We must not be divided.” Thai authorities are considering cutting channels through five major Bangkok roads to drain floodwaters seeping into northern parts of the capital, as a high tide starting yesterday threatened riverside communities.
The five roads in the eastern part of the city were blocking water from reaching canals that drain into the Gulf of Thailand, said the Transport Minister, Sukampol Suwannathat.
Dykes north of the city were holding back a three-metre deep wall of water that has inundated about 10,000 factories, disrupting the supply chains of companies including Honda Motor Company.
The Bangkok Post website reported yesterday: ”The proposal is intended to ease the massive flow of floodwater bearing down on the capital’s inner-city areas. The proposal has been put forward by a group of engineers and water resource management experts, led by Ninnart Chaithirapinyo, vice-chairman of Toyota Motor Thailand.”
The experts met Ms Shinawatra yesterday to discuss the proposal.
The roads are Pracha Ruam Jai, Rat Uthit Road, Suwinthawong Road, Nimitr Mai Road and Ruam Phattana Road. The channels would be five to six metres wide.
If the roads are cut through, they could help drain about 60 million cubic metres of floodwater a day, and temporary bridges would be built over the channels. The work would take three days.
Sukhumbhand Paribatra, the city’s Governor, warned communities in 13 districts to watch for flooding.
The floods are mainly limited to a handful of northern areas in the capital and low-lying places near canals and rivers. Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport is operating normally and the company that operates it is ”confident” that it can be protected from flooding.