Bangkok flood defences hold against high tides

The complex network of flood defences shielding Thailand's capital from the worst floods in nearly 60 years mostly held today as coastal high tides hit their peak. While the city centre was protected, Bangkok's northern outskirts remained inundated along with much of the rest of the country.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said that the floodwaters that have wreaked havoc to provinces north of Bangkok in the last several weeks had started to recede, and she urged citizens to let the crisis take its course.



"We have the good news that the situation in the central region has improved as runoff water gradually decreased," she said. "I thank people and urge them to be more patient in case this weekend is significant because of the high tide."



Fear gripped Bangkok early in the day as tides along the Gulf of Thailand crested at about 9am and pushed the city's main waterway, the Chao Phraya River, to its brink. Waves reached a maximum height of 8.1 feet above sea level — just barely contained by the 8.2-foot flood walls protecting much of the inner city, according to Bangkok Metropolitan Administration official Adisak Kantee.



The tide was short of the expected 8.2 feet predicted by the Thai Navy.



Bangkok remains under threat from coastal high tides set to swell the Chao Praya river early this evening, tomorrow morning and Monday, continuing to put more pressure on the city's dikes and sluices. Still, no major breaches were reported in the defences after this morning's expected peak.



City official Adisak told the Associated Press the city's concrete barriers "are efficiently protecting Bangkok from deluge," though he said smaller, private dikes might yet fail and breach the city center.



"The situation is so far under control," he said.



Overflows so far have lightly inundated riverside streets from Chinatown to the famed Temple of the Emerald Buddha. But the white-walled royal Grand Palace was dry, less than 24 hours after being ringed by ankle-deep water, and the landmark remained open to tourists. Many visitors carried parasols to protect themselves from the blistering sunshine.



Yingluck said in her weekly radio address today that the government had implemented a plan to accelerate the drainage rate and that water in the greater Bangkok area should recede by the first week of November.



Meanwhile, the streets of downtown Bangkok — the country's financial heart — were bone-dry and bustling with taxis, restaurant-goers and tourists snapping pictures. But the city remained in peril, as high tides along the gulf were expected to crest again late in the day, threatening to obstruct the flood runoff from the north. The government also is worried major barriers and dykes could break.



Also today, the government's Flood Relief Operations Center was forced to move its headquarters from its base at Don Muang airport, which is used mostly for domestic flights, to a government building nearby after a power transformer malfunctioned. Authorities were forced to shut down the airport earlier in the week after floodwaters rushed in.



Relief center director Pracha Promnok said the government might extend a five-day public holiday beyond Monday if warranted. The holiday was declared to encourage people to leave the city for safer areas.



Yesterday, saffron-robed monks and soldiers piled sandbags outside the capital's most treasured temples and palaces as the Chao Phraya swelled precariously beyond its banks. Army trucks dumped thousands of sandbags outside the riverside Siriraj Hospital, where Thailand's ailing and revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej has stayed since 2009.



Most of the water receded at low tide, but worried Bangkokians were buying up bright orange lifejackets and inflatable boats, fearing the worst is yet to come.



"You have to prepare," said Fon Kanokporn, a banker who bought a rubber boat from a store that had several hanging from trees out front as advertisements.



Employees at the shop said they had sold well over 3,000 boats in the last week. The brisk business is a measure of the fear gripping Bangkok and a reflection of the tragedy of neighboring provinces that have been submerged for weeks. Several buyers said they needed boats because their submerged homes outside the capital were no longer accessible by road.



Three months of relentless monsoon rains have caused the worst flooding in Thailand in more than half a century, triggering a national crisis that has severely tested Yingluck's government.



The water has crept from the central plains south toward the Gulf of Thailand for weeks, engulfing a third of the country's provinces and killing nearly 400 people and displacing 110,000 more. Now, Bangkok is in the way — surrounded by behemoth pools of water flowing around and through the city via a complex network of canals and rivers.



Seven of Bangkok's 50 districts — all in the northern outskirts — are heavily flooded, and residents have fled aboard bamboo rafts and army trucks and by wading through waist-deep water. Eight other districts have seen less serious flooding. AP

News
Patrick Stewart in the classiest ice bucket to date
peopleSir Patrick took a more understated approach to the challenge
News
The current recommendation from Britain's Chief Medical Officer, is that people refrain from drinking on at least two days a week
scienceTheory is that hangovers are caused by methanol poisoning
Arts and Entertainment
tvWe have created an infogaphic that looks back over the previous incarnations of the Doctor
Sport
Olivier Giroud celebrates after his late goal saved Arsenal a point at Goodison Park
football Giroud rescues a point for Arsenal after they trailed by two goals
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
i100
News
newsComedian Lee Hurst started trend with first tweet using the hashtag
News
i100
News
Australian rapper Iggy Azalea was left red faced but, thankfully, unhurt after taking a few too many steps backwards, sending her tumbling off the stage.
people
Life and Style
A nearly completed RoboThespian robot inside the Engineered Arts workshop is tested in Penryn, England. The Cornish company, operating from an industrial unit near Falmouth, is the world's only maker of commercially available life sized humanoid robots
techSuper-intelligent robots could decide destroying the human race is the kindest thing to do
Life and Style
techConcept would see planes coated in layer of micro-sensors and able to sense wear and tear
News
scienceExcitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
News
newsRyan Crighton goes in search of the capo dei capi
Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
News
i100
Extras
indybest

Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Software Developer (Java /C# Programmer)- London

£30000 - £45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A global investment management fi...

Senior Network Engineer-(CCIE, CCNP, Cisco, London)

£65000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer-(CCIE, CC...

Senior Network Analyst - (CCIE, Cisco, CISSP)

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Analyst - (CCIE, C...

Senior Network Engineer-(Design, Implementation, CCIE)

£60000 - £80000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer-(Design, ...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition