Historic flooding takes deadly toll on Thailand

The flooding has affected more than
3 million people in 36 of Thailand’s 76 provinces, government medical and
disaster agencies said. The floods have eased in a third of those provinces.

More than 4 million sandbags were
used to erect walls this week in Bangkok along stretches of the Chao Phraya
River, which has swelled with runoffs from upper provinces that officials
feared could inundate the capital.

So far, flooding in Bangkok has
been minimal but riverside residents were warned to be on alert through Friday,
after which current high-tide levels were expected to subside.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva
warned, however, that new risks loom.

“We have to keep an eye on the
situation closely,” Abhisit said, adding that tidal levels were expected
to rise again early next month. “The worrying period will return in the beginning
of next month. The supervision must continue.”

Last week, Abhisit said the
flooding was the country’s worst in 40 or 50 years due to heavy rains that
dumped larger-than-normal amounts of water into dams and reservoirs and
aggressive housing and business development that has affected natural drainage

The Cabinet has allocated $9.42
million to purchase boats, mobile toilets, sandbags, tents and other equipment
to assist flood victims. About 600,000 households that suffered flooding for
more than one week would be given initial relief funds of $170.

The Public Health Ministry has
ordered 55,100 sets of mobile toilets in the flooded areas. The toilets vary
from cardboard box toilets to floating toilets and toilets improvised from
chairs and plastic bags.