11/03/2011, 00.00
THAILAND
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20% of Bangkok flooded. Number of victims up to 437

by Weena Kowitwanij
Evacuation continues, but many residents refuse to leave their homes at the risk of getting electrocuted. Food and drinking water becoming scarce. Protests of those who have lost their homes to save the city center. The solidarity of Japan in crisis: money and a song.
Bangkok (AsiaNews) - 20% of Bangkok is now flooded, but many residents refuse to leave their homes at the risk of being electrocuted or suffering from diseases caused by poor hygiene. Food and drinking water are becoming scarce, while the authorities continue evacuations in some districts. And if there are no more victims at the moment in Bangkok, the number of deaths in the rest of the country continues to grow: according to the latest toll 437 deaths have been registered since last July, when the flood disaster in Thailand first began.

Jate Sopitpongstorn, a spokesman for Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, reports that there are "11 thousand evacuees housed in centers set up in different parts of the city." The floods have so far hit 63 out of 77 provinces and 25 reported severe damage or destruction. However, only 38 provinces have begun to tackle rehabilitation and reconstruction of houses and buildings. In areas around the capital, particularly in the north, around 10 thousand businesses have been closed, seriously endangering the national supply chain.

The prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra has launched an appeal to the people, not to destroy the barriers and drains raised to protect the economic and commercial heart of the capital. "We understand your suffering," she said, but destroying the guardrails along the channels "will not help to contain the flooding." The government the Prime Minister assures, has an aid plan for victims. However, discontent continues to mount particularly among those Bangkok residents, who have had to "sacrifice" of their homes to save "department stores and luxury shops."

Meanwhile, Thailand has received the solidarity of Japan, whose government has allocated 12,800,000 dollars for the flood emergency. Tokyo also has to deal with the Fukushima nuclear disaster, for which it in turn had received support from Bangkok. Now the Japanese government wants to return the favor, and will allocate aid as soon as n exact list of the damage caused by monsoon rains is drawn up. The floods, among others, have also affected Japanese business located on Thai territory, including Honda. But added to Japan’s economic support is an offer of "spiritual" comfort in the dedication of a song called "Himawari" (Sunflower, in local language). An invitation to "stay strong" even in the midst of an emergency.

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