20 October 2011 by Luke McCormick
Thailand's Prime Minister has said floods in parts of Bangkok are now inevitable, but stressed that the central areas of the city should be spared damage.
Yingluck Shinawatra said it was now necessary to allow water to flow through parts of Bangkok and out to sea.
"We cannot block the water forever," Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra told reporters in Bangkok, adding that the government would choose which parts of the city to allow the water through to minimise the impact of the ‘national crisis'.
"The longer we block the water the higher it gets," she said. "We need areas that water can be drained through so the water can flow out to the sea."
A plan is now in place to allow water to flow through some eastern parts of the city in a bid to protect the economic and historic central areas of Bangkok.
Central Bangkok is protected by flood barriers, which have been reinforced by troops in recent days.
Bangkok's Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra has warned residents of seven districts to prepare themselves for possible flooding as water is set to be diverted.
His administration is issuing flood updates every three hours until the situation eases. It has also drafted an evacuation plan that can be enforced immediately if needed.
Tourism facilities in Bangkok have so far been unaffected by the floods, although yesterday authorities at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport raised the height of temporary dykes and put in place metre-high sandbag barriers along surrounding roads in a bid to prevent disruption.
The nation's army, navy and air force yesterday started fortifying their Bangkok headquarters and activating contingency plans as defences against the impending flood. In addition thousands of volunteers had been working on sandbagging a section of flood defence to the north of the city.
Popular southern areas of Thailand - including Koh Samui and Phuket - are largely unaffected by the current situation and welcoming visitors.