- (Reuters/Chaiwat Subprasom)
Officials in Bangkok have warned that there are now no major barriers between the flood waters and the heart of the Thai capital Saturday.
The flood waters spread through Bangkok’s largest outdoor market on Saturday; alarming officials at the possibility of the floods spreading to Bangkok’s city center now just six miles away.
The floods are the worst Thailand has seen for 50 years, and has killed nearly 500 people.
On Friday night, Thai workers completed a 3.7 mile long flood wall in an effort to divert some of the flood waters piling up in northern Bangkok. The wall was made up from huge sandbags, Jate Sopitpongstorn, a city spokesman reported to the media.
Flood water was seen flowing past the famous Chatuchak Weekend Market, a sprawling, open-air shopping zone and major tourist attraction north of the central business district, according to The Associated Press.
Ordinarily the market would be packed to capacity at the weekend, but this week reports say that just a few brave vendors and shoppers could be seen in the vicinity.
The floods have been slowly consuming the country since late July, and are the result of heavy monsoon rains combined with a series of tropical storms. Crops and major manufacturing factories have been forced to close due to the extensive nature of the floods, and the country’s vital tourist industry has also taken a big hit.
Bangkok authorities have urged residents in flood-threatened zones to make their way to one of the 231 evacuation centers set up around the capital city.
Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra told a radio station Saturday that he plans to allocate $3.3 billion for relief and reconstruction in the flood aftermath.
On Friday, reports stated that Bangkok was bracing itself for floodwaters to hit the underground subway system and cause transport problems throughout the city.
The capital is in a dire state, with more than 20 percent of the city submerged, and floodwaters carrying rotten animal carcasses and industrial waste to the center, AP has reported. Many fear an outbreak of disease would be catastrophic for the tightly packed 12 million strong population.
The Bangkok Metro System is warning that water surges are approaching the central business district, and should water levels rise above 40 centimeters, a number of subway stations are going to have to close.
City workers erected steel barriers in the subway stations to protect against inundation, but it will not stop the floodwaters from crashing into the city center and sweeping through the track lines.