Thai PM cancels US trip amid flood crisis

 

Thailand's prime minister has cancelled plans to attend a Pacific trade forum in Hawaii this weekend as she struggles to cope with her country's worst flooding for half a century.

The flooding began in late July and has killed 527 people, mostly by drowning. Some provinces north of Bangkok have been inundated for more than a month, although floodwater there has started to recede in recent days as massive pools of runoff flow south.

The water has inexorably made its way into Bangkok, causing distress among the capital's more than 9 million inhabitants and heightening criticism of government's inefficiency in countering the problem.

"Now it's time for all Thai people to help each other, so I've informed (the host) that I would not go," Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said.

The Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation summit, hosted by President Barack Obama, will bring together 21 leaders, including Chinese President Hu Jintao.

It would have given novice politician Ms Yingluck diplomatic experience, but could also have exposed her to criticism of ignoring flooding at home where her rivals are keen to exploit any problems due to the waters.

She came to office in August after a Pheu Thai party landslide, but is widely seen as a stand-in for her brother, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted by a military coup in 2007 after being accused of corruption and abuse of power.

Ms Yingluck had already cancelled a trip to China last month because of the flood crisis.

Her energy minister said the flood crisis in Bangkok is likely to drag on for another month, as authorities issued another evacuation warning in a northern neighbourhood and floodwater inched further into the city's heart.

Energy Minister Pichai Naripthaphan said, however, that floods may finally begin to subside in the capital by mid-November, according to a government statement late yesterday.

Top officials and experts have given varying estimates of how much Bangkok would flood and how long the threat would loom over the city, with some claiming several weeks ago the biggest window of danger to the sprawling metropolis had already passed.

Instead, the flood threat has only intensified, straining sandbag-stacking residents as more and more neighbourhoods are swamped each day. The seemingly unstoppable floodwater has overwhelmed canals, seeped up through drains and poured down roads lined with apartment buildings. The water has now begun surrounding the city's northernmost subway stops, threatening to shut them down.

Evacuations have been ordered in 12 of Bangkok's 50 districts, with residents of the northern district of Klong Sam Wa told to leave yesterday. The evacuations, which also affect parts of several other districts, are not mandatory, and many people are staying to protect homes and businesses.

Today, Football Federation Australia said a World Cup qualifier against Thailand scheduled for next week had been moved to a smaller stadium in Bangkok because the original venue is being used as a flood evacuation centre.

Meanwhile, clean-ups have begun in provinces to the north, including Nakorn Sawan and Ayutthaya, site of Thailand's ancient capital. The prime minister planned to visit Ayutthaya later today to witness recovery efforts.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Life and Style
Scientist have developed a test which predicts whether you'll live for another ten years
health
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
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

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executive - Call Centre Jobs

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - Covent Garden, central London - £45k - £55k

£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...

Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator - Lancashire - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Support Engineer / Network ...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Developer

£26000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Developer is required to ...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn