Thailand floods kill 56, start to spread disease
Floodwaters that have swamped central Thailand since last week have claimed 56 lives and spread flood-related diseases to at least 170,000 people, health officials said Tuesday, DPA reported.
Health Minister Jurin Raksannawisit said 49 of the 56 dead had drowned and the remaining seven had died from flood-related accidents, such as electrocution.
With 25 of Thailand's 77 provinces inundated, the Public Health Ministry has stepped up monitoring for the spread of flood-related diseases, such as leptospirosis, dengue, malaria, influenza, kidney ailments and stress, Jurin said.
Heavy monsoon rains since October 10 have affected the lives of 2.5 million people and caused damage to crops, houses and infrastructure estimated at 10 billion baht (333 million dollars).
The flooding has been mostly limited to central and north-eastern provinces, but as large dams in the affected region reached capacity, irrigation officials have been forced to release water into the Chao Phrya River, which flows through Bangkok.
The capital is on high alert as the floodwaters were forecast to meet particularly high tides pushing up the river from the Gulf of Thailand, especially Tuesday and Wednesday.
Authorities in the capital have told 1,000 families living on the banks of the river and canals to prepare for evacuation.
On Tuesday morning, the river level in the city was measured at 2.1 metres above mean sea level, still below the 2.5-metre protection walls in the city, but a heavy rain in the coming days could cause it to breach its banks.
The city was hit by floods in 1986 and 1995. The local government has since invested heavily in flood-prevention measures.