7 Nov 2011

Fears Bangkok flooding could worsen

9:00 am on 7 November 2011

The number of people killed by months of flooding in northern Thailand has risen to more than 500.

Three months of heavy rain have affected about a third of Thailand's provinces, destroying farmland and forcing tens of thousands from their homes.

Large parts of the capital Bangkok are flooded and there are fears the city centre could be further swamped.

The government has announced a $US4 billion recovery plan, with the money to be used to rebuild homes and businesses and restore the economy, which has been badly affected.

The authorities have come under criticism for what is perceived as a slow response to the flooding, and for giving conflicting advice about evacuations.

The waters are now receding in the north of the country but Department of Prevention and Mitigation said on Sunday that 506 people were now known to have died since July.

The BBC reported doubts are growing again about whether the authorities will be able to protect the capital.

The city, which is criss-crossed by rivers and canals, has been threatened by encroaching water for weeks as the floods drain towards the sea.

Nobody has died in the capital, but a fifth of the city is now under water and tens of thousands of residents of eight of the 50 districts have been told to leave their homes.

Rows between the government and the Bangkok administration about how to handle the crisis have undermined public confidence in their efforts.

On Saturday, Bangkok governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra warned that the city authorities would throw out the central government's flood management plan and bring in their own unless co-operation between the two agencies improved, the Bangkok Post reports.

There are growing concerns about the health problems of large amounts of polluted water - which is up to chest height in some areas - flowing through the densely populated city.