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Bangkok on flood alert

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26 October 2011 by Luke McCormick

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has warned Bangkok residents that all parts of Bangkok are now vulnerable to flooding.

During a televised address on Tuesday she warned low-lying parts of the city could be inundated, adding that existing floodwalls and embankments around the Chao Phraya River were especially vulnerable.

A high tide this weekend is expected to swell the already high levels of water in city's main river, with Yingluck saying a ‘worst-case scenario' would see low-lying areas of Bangkok submerged in ‘more than one metre' of water.

"But I'm fifty percent confident that the inner zone of Bangkok will not be completely flooded," she added, apparently downplaying earlier comments when she said it was ‘highly likely' there would be flooding in central Bangkok.

"Initially, the floods in Bangkok will last for two weeks to one month," she said.

Bangkok's governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra said the ‘high water level in the Chao Phraya River is unprecedented' with fears the combination of monthly high tides and flood waters draining into the sea from the north could overwhelm recently reinforced flood defences.

At Bangkok's recently closed second airport, Don Muang, evacuees who had been people living there in a disused terminal are now being moved again. All flights from Don Muang have been suspended until next Tuesday after flooding spread to the runways.

But the government insists it won't relocate its flood relief operation centre, which is located on the second floor of the airport building.

Bangkok's main international airport, Suvarnabhumi, is in another part of the city and remains open, although Thai Airways is considering reducing flights due to a shortage of staff.

The airline says a number of its employees live in the Don Muang district and their living and travelling conditions have become too difficult. The carrier also expects the number of foreign arrivals to fall because of the flooding situation.

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