[QODLink]
Asia-Pacific
Questions swirl as Thai floodwaters recede
Government continues to face anger over which communities were flooded and which were spared, especially around Bangkok.
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2011 13:55

Floodwaters are finally receding in Thailand, but the government continues to face questions over which communities were spared and which were flooded.

The centre of Bangkok has remained largely dry, thanks to a vast network of sandbags and pumping stations. But those defences have saturated surrounding areas under metres of water, and Yingluck Shinawatra, Thailand's prime minister, admitted on Monday that parts of the capital could still be flooded next year.

"Personally I want to see people happy in the new year, but I am not confident about western areas, where it is difficult to drain water," she told reporters.

"The general situation is stable as floodwaters drain into the sea, but how quickly it drains depends on the contours of each area."

Protests and economic damage

Small protests have erupted in communities which have not been spared. In the suburb of Don Mueang, north of Bangkok, a hole in the floodwall allowed water to drain away. When authorities tried to repair it - which would leave Don Mueang inundated but keep the waters from reaching Bangkok - about 70 residents tried to stop them.

The government and the protesters reached a compromise to only partially repair the hole.

Residents in other communities have gone further, tearing down the government-erected floodwalls.

Flooding has affected more than a third of the country's provinces, and killed 562 people nationwide. Thai officials say the economic damage is still being counted; local media and business groups have said it could top out at more than $25 billion.

Major international companies, including Honda and Toyota, shuttered their factories in Thailand because of the floods, and it is unclear when they might reopen.

Authorities are hoping to quickly revitalise the tourism sector, which has been badly damaged by the flooding. The government on Monday reopened a major elephant park in Ayutthaya, 80 kilometres north of Bangkok. But experts fear that many of the monasteries and other ruins around the park were damaged by the floodwaters.

"Right now the tourists are starting to understand and hear the news that tourism in Ayutthaya is resuming," said Witthaya Piewpong, the province's governor. "We are now welcoming all tourists."

Yingluck has proposed spending 130 billion baht ($4.2 billion) on reconstruction and future flood prevention.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Nearly half of Canadians have suffered inappropriate advances on the job - and the political arena is no exception.
Featured
Women's rights activists are demanding change after Hanna Lalango, 16, was gang-raped on a bus and left for dead.
Buried in Sweden's northern forest, Sorsele has welcomed many unaccompanied kids who help stabilise a town exodus.
A look at the changing face of North Korea, three years after the death of 'Dear Leader'.
While some fear a Muslim backlash after café killings, solidarity instead appears to be the order of the day.
Victims spared by the deadly disease are reporting blindness and other unexpected post-Ebola health issues.