Thailand is rushing to protect its capital city Bangkok from floodwaters after inundations in the country’s northern and central provinces killed six people.
Soldiers on Tuesday set up barriers and sandbags to protect archaeological ruins and landmarks as well as neighbourhoods in the old royal capital Ayutthaya, some 60km (37 miles) north of Bangkok.
“We will give people a warning if there is a sign the water level is rising and if there is a risk of flash floods,” Bangkok Governor Aswin Kwanmuang said on Tuesday.
The level of the Chao Phraya River, which snakes through Bangkok after winding almost 400km (248 miles) from the north, is steadily rising amid Tropical Storm Dianmu, which has hit 30 of the country’s 76 provinces.
Seasonal monsoon rains may worsen the flooding, which extends to about a third of Thailand, officials said on Monday. Pumping stations were being used to reduce the potential damage.
About 70,000 homes are estimated to be affected, with the kingdom’s central region the worst hit, the Thai Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department said.
Over the weekend, emergency teams staged dramatic rescues evacuating villagers from rooftops in parts of Chaiyaphum province, about four hours northeast of the capital.
Bangkok witnessed a catastrophic 2011 monsoon season, when it experienced its worst flooding in decades. A fifth of the city was underwater and more than 500 people died.
In the past, farmland and rice paddies in low-lying areas absorbed flood water, but the city’s expansion has seen much converted into real estate.