11/11/2011, 00.00
THAILAND
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Bangkok still on flood alert, as class action is prepared against govt

by Weena Kowitwanij
Almost 10 billion cubic metres of water could swamp Bangkok’s central districts by mid-November. Plans for funnelling out the water are being implemented. Lawyers prepare to file a lawsuit against the government. The prime minister dismisses calls for her resignation. Many now fear contamination of water supplies.
Bangkok (AsiaNews) – Almost 10 million cubic billion of water could flood the central part of Bangkok by mid-November. The authorities have elaborated an emergency plan to funnel the mass of water from the capital’s business hub. Meanwhile, some lawyers are preparing a class action lawsuit against the government for damages caused by flooding since July. Equally, Thailand’s opposition parties have called for Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to resign even though she took office after the start of monsoon rains. In fact, she said that she had no intention of quitting; instead, she reiterated her commitment to work for the good of the country, shrugging off the threat of legal action.

The latest figures indicate that more than 500 people have died in the floods, including 50 children between the ages of two and eight. In Bangkok alone, flooding has affected some 40,000 residents in 526 communities in 12 districts.

According to Anon Sanitwong Na Ayuthaya, an academic on the government’s flood team, “There are approximately 10 billion cubic metres of water” waiting to be funnelled towards the seas, 6 billion will flow into the sea at low tide. The rest will be funnelled through rivers east and west of the capital.

Experts say it will take another three weeks before all Bangkok streets are dry, two weeks for some districts in the core area of the capital.

An economist from University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce said 10 million rice fields out of 57,000,000 were damaged by the flood. Nevertheless, there will be enough rice for consumption.

The Lardkrabang and Bang Chan Industrial Estates remain on high alert. About 40 per cent of the 231 plants in Lardkrabang have stopped production. The estimated loss caused by the flood is around 70 billion Baht (about US$ 2.2 billion).

Despite the crisis, celebrations of the Loi Krathong festival got underway. The event, which began more than a century ago, honours the Goddess of Water.

But as Thais celebrate such a precious, yet dangerous element, experts warn of possible contamination of water supplies, especially in industrial parks where chemical and otherwise polluting substances could have ended up in the water.
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