» 10/26/2010, 00.00
Floods devastate Thailand: 56 dead, 30 affected provinces
Floods caused by Typhoon Megi are considered, in some provinces, the worst for several decades. Bangkok prepares to tackle the crisis, flooding feared in the capital.
Bangkok (AsiaNews / Agencies) – The death toll from two weeks of flooding in Thailand in the aftermath of Typhoon Megi has risen to 56 people. About two million and 800 thousand people have been affected by the disaster considered the worst in decades to hit the nation, losing houses, land or livestock.
Rivers have burst their banks in 30 provinces out of 76. In the province of Nakhon Ratchasima, among the hardest hit, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has called the flooding "the worst in 50 years." The association of rice producers - of which Thailand is the largest exporter in the world - has already calculated a possible loss of 20 per cent of production.
The waters of swollen rivers are threatening to cause flooding in the coming days also in Bangkok, built two meters above sea level and where much of the national river system converges.
In recent days hundreds of workers have reinforced the banks of the Chao Praya River and have protected the streets around the channels with 200 thousand sand bags, building temporary pedestrian bridges for residents of areas already affected by minor flooding. A large number of pumps were installed in the most exposed parts of the capital, ready to be put into operation.
The floods have caused widespread damage in the north-east, large parts of which are submerged under a meter of water. In the ancient capital of Ayuttahaya, 92 elephants used as a tourist attraction were led to safety on a march to the nearby hills.
In fact the full force of Typhoon Megi has not yet struck the Indochinese peninsula. Megi is advancing in a south westerly direction at 19 kilometers per hour, with winds up to 260 km / h and should continue its path west, entering the South China Sea on Tuesday.
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