* PM says Thailand will recover soon
* Parts of Bangkok western districts could take longer to
* Clinton pledges long-term U.S. support for Thailand,
offers $10 mln aid
* Floodwaters in most estates recede; businesses return
* Death toll rises to 564 since July
By Ploy Ten Kate and Paul Eckert
BANGKOK, Nov 16 Floodwater in parts of
Thailand's capital, Bangkok, is receding after weeks of
inundation but Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and water
experts said residents in some western districts could still be
suffering into next year.
However, Yingluck reassured investors at a news conference
with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday
that Thailand would get back on track quickly and had a
long-term strategy for redesigning its water management system.
"We'll recover soon," Yingluck said, adding that restoring
some infrastructure could be completed within 45-90 days.
She said eastern Bangkok, where two industrial estates are
still surrounded by water, should be flood-free by the end of
the year but draining water from western districts was harder.
Thailand's worst flooding in at least five decades has
claimed 564 lives since July, with water flowing slowly down
from the north, inundating agricultural and industrial areas in
the centre before swamping parts of Bangkok from late October.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, also on a visit to
Thailand, offered $10 million in aid, in addition to $1.1
million already offered, for humanitarian assistance, equipment
and training in emergency response and disaster prevention.
"While we are focused now on the immediate needs of the Thai
people, we will also be here for the long run," Clinton told a
She said Washington would "support Thailand's economic
recovery as a trade, investment and development partner".
U.S. officials would work with Thai military and civilian
organisations to get the city's swamped Don Muang airport up and
running to facilitate relief missions, Clinton added.
Bangkok's main Suvarnabhumi airport, which is protected by a
dike about 3.5 metres (11.5 feet) high in the east of Bangkok,
is operating as normal.
Anond Snidvongs, executive director of the government's
Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency, said
residents living in certain low-lying areas in the west would
have to live with water for a while longer.
"In the western area, the capacity of the drainage system
was limited from the start," Anond told Reuters, adding there
were also fewer canals than in the east.
"What we're trying to do is add more water pumps and control
the opening and closing of sluice gates in line with the high
and the low river tides, as much as possible," added Anond, who
is acting as an adviser to the government.
He said some districts in western Bangkok could still escape
flooding completely, and it should take only two or three weeks
for main roads to dry out.
Floodwater has reached part of the low-lying Rama II Road, a
main highway through the west of Bangkok to the rubber-growing
south of Thailand, which has not been affected by the floods.
GETTING BACK TO NORMAL
Most of Bangkok's central business district remains dry.
In the north of the capital, the old Don Muang airport, used
mainly for internal flights, is still closed but areas to its
south are starting to dry out.
An army of street cleaners was at work on the main
Pahonyothin Road, disposing of trash and dead plants and
removing thick layers of dirt left behind by the water.
Streets in office areas that had been deserted only a few
days ago were getting back to normal, with outdoor eating areas
and market stalls up and running again. Most of the cars that
had been parked for weeks on elevated roads had gone.
Top Thai retailer Central Pattana Pcl said it would
reopen Ladphrao mall, one of its biggest, on Nov. 18. Its
flood-hit Pinklao mall reopened on Nov. 13.
Evacuation orders had been issued in a third of Bangkok's
districts, mostly in the north of the densely populated city of
12 million people.
Yingluck, whose government only came to power in August,
said last week about 120 billion baht ($3.9 billion) had been
set aside for the immediate flood recovery effort, a figure that
rises to 130 billion baht when local government funds are added.
In the east of Bangkok, floodwater continued to surround two
industrial estates but defences were holding up and some plants,
including that of Honda Motor Co, were back at work.
Isuzu Motors Ltd said it planned to restart its
Thai plant, halted by a shortage of parts due to the flooding,
on Nov. 21 rather than Nov. 18.