30 Oct 2011

Peak tides test Bangkok's flood defences

8:12 pm on 30 October 2011

Peak tides are testing Bangkok's flood defences as hopes rise that the centre of the Thai capital might escape the worst floods in decades.

The floods have killed at least 381 people since July and affected more than two million.

Water flowing down the central Chao Phraya river basin from the north is meeting peak tides surging in the Gulf of Thailand, 20km south of Bangkok, leading to fears the city's makeshift defences could be swamped.

The tides have pushed water in the river about 2.5 metres above sea level but dikes and sand-bag walls have largely held.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has said the water bearing down from the north of the country was beginning to recede.

Matthew Cochrane of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said the situation was critical and many people were living in floodwater without access to food and water.

"There are more than two million people who have been affected over the past few months. Many of them are still affected," he said.