Disease fears stalk Thai capital

Efforts to keep floodwaters from central Bangkok appear to be working, but there is now a bigger worry.

    With peak tides passing, Thai government efforts to protect central Bangkok seem to have worked, as the commercial districts of the capital remain relatively unaffected by the nation's worst flooding in a decade.

    Al Jazeera's correspondent in Bangkok, Wayne Hay, says central areas of the capital have "come through a dangerous period relatively unscathed," after fears of high tides combining with northern flood waters this weekend.

    Outside Bangkok, however, floodwaters remain. In many areas that water is full of rubbish. The polluted waters just kilometres from Bangkok raise new fears of water-borne diseases.

    The government estimates that the cost of clean-up efforts could be as high as $30bn.

    While the commercial heart of Bangkok only suffered isolated flooding, areas along the city's outskirts saw flooding spread. Provinces just north of the Bangkok, such as Pathun Thani and Ayutthaya, have been inundated for weeks.

    Fears about water-borne diseases and malaria are growing and aid workers warn that many people were living in floodwater without access to food and water.

    The floods follow unusually heavy monsoon rain. But there have also been accusations that authorities mistakenly delayed releasing water from dams early in the rainy season. By the time they had to release it, rain was heavy and
    rivers full.

    Floods in Thailand have killed more than 400 people since mid-July and are estimated to have disrupted the lives of nearly 2.2 million people over the past few months.

    The governor of the Bank of Thailand recently estimated economic losses to be as high as $2.6bn. Hundreds of factories have been forced to close and a lot of the country's rice crops have been destroyed.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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