BANGKOK, Sept 12 Up to a quarter of Thailand's
provinces, including the tourist resort of Ayutthaya, have been
inundated by floodwaters amid concerns the government failed to
act fast enough to strengthen flood defences after last year's
Thousands have fled their homes in Northern Thailand after
heavy rain caused a major river to overflow at the start of the
month, sending up to a metre of water into some towns. So far,
four people have died.
Scenes of residents wading through waist-high water and
stacking large sandbags around shops and homes in Sukhothai,
about 430 km (265 miles) north of the capital Bangkok, are a
stark reminder of last year's floods that killed more than 800
Thailand registered just 0.1 percent annual growth in 2011,
largely as a result of the floods which swept down into Bangkok.
Although the latest flooding is not as bad as a year ago,
another disaster could deal a blow to Prime Minister Yingluck
Shinawatra's Puea Thai government which came under fire for
mismanaging the 2011 crisis.
Industrial estates have scrambled to build flood walls and
dredge nearby canals in time for this year's rainy season, but
other parts of the country remain vulnerable to sudden
"Barriers designed to prevent the Yom river from overflowing
were in need of repair but this wasn't done after last year's
floods," Plodprasop Suraswadi, Thailand's Water and Flood
Management Commission, told local radio on Wednesday referring
to a main river in the north.
Flood defences at seven key industrial zones were badly hit
in 2011, crippling Thailand's electronics and auto sectors and
crushing foreign investor confidence.
"Japanese companies are satisfied with the earth flood
barriers we built this year and we're ready if water reaches
us," said Somnuk Sansomboonsuk, director and project manager of
Hi-Tech Industrial Estate, 60 km (40 miles) from Bangkok.
($1 = 31.0900 Thai baht)
(Writing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)