Thailand's flood death toll hits 17
Floods in central Thailand caused by a weeklong monsoon deluge have claimed at least 17 lives this week and caused an estimated 267 million dollars in damage, officials said Friday.
Heavy rains that started last weekend have caused flooding in 29 of Thailand's 77 provinces, affecting 211,946 households and 400,000 hectares of farmland, DPA reported according to the officials at the National Disaster Relief Centre.
The floods were most extreme in Thailand's central and north-eastern provinces, especially Nakorn Ratchasima, 200 kilometres north-east of Bangkok, whose capital, which has the same name, was under 1 metre of water last weekend.
"The departments concerned should have issued a warning earlier because you can save a lot of damage by letting people in the affected area know ahead of time," said Smith Dharmasaroja, chairman of the Foundation of Natural Disaster Warning Council.
According to Nakorn Ratchasmima officials, the depth of the floodwaters was partly to blame on over-construction in the provincial capital that includes hotels, golf courses and a 2.8-billion-baht (93-million-dollar) sports complex built for the South-East Asian Games in 2007.
The sports complex was built on the Takoengpol reservoir, which previously provided a water catchment for Nakorn Ratchasima City, the Bangkok Post reported.
Others have blamed the floods on an unusually heavy and persistent monsoon rain that has filled dam reservoirs to their brims.
Bangkok was expected to be threatened by floods next week as the Chao Phrya River swells from runoff from dams in central and northern Thailand forced to release water into the river, which courses through the Thai capital.
A combination of the high Chao Phrya with high tides on the Gulf of Thailand, into which the river feeds, were expected to test the capital's flood-prevention systems starting Tuesday.
"If they are lucky, there will not be more heavy rain coming down next week," Smith said. "If there is just normal rain, they may get away with it."