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Thailand calls holiday to allow people to escape floods

10-26-2011 08:13 BJT

Thailand announced a five-day holiday Tuesday to give people the chance to escape floods closing in on Bangkok as authorities ordered the evacuation of a housing estate on the outskirts of the city after a protective wall gave way.

A stranded resident receives food supplies near the Chao Phraya river after an embankment ruptured overnight flooding another area in central Bangkok Tuesday. Millions of people in the Thai capital nervously prepared for advancing floodwaters. Photo: AFP

The cabinet declared October 27-31 a holiday in Bangkok and 20 provinces affected by the country's worst flooding in 50 years as weekend high tides in the Gulf of Thailand could complicate efforts to divert water away from the low-lying capital.

The floods have forced the closure of seven industrial estates in Ayutthaya, Nonthaburi and Pathum Thani provinces bordering Bangkok, causing billions of dollars of damage, disrupting supply chains for industry and putting about 650,000 people temporarily out of work.

The cabinet announced a 325 billion baht ($10.6 billion) budget Tuesday to help rebuild the country, mostly for small and medium-sized enterprises, small vendors and individuals.

"If they get back to normal quickly, it will help push the economy forward," Finance Minister Thirachai Phuvanatnaranubala said.

Don Muang Airport, Bangkok's second biggest, said it would temporarily close at 5 pm (10 pm GMT) Tuesday as passengers and staff might have problems reaching the terminal because of the flooding. It expected to reopen on November 1.

Airports of Thailand said the main Suvarnabhumi Airport was not affected because it was on higher ground. However, Thai Airways International Pcl, which operates out of Suvarnabhumi, said it may reduce flights.

Parts of Don Muang, Lak Si and Sai Mai districts in northern Bangkok have been under water since Saturday and the flood crisis center in Don Muang may have to relocate.

The center instructed residents of the Muang Ake housing estate in northern Bangkok to evacuate Tuesday after a flood protection wall in nearby Pathum Thani Province was breached.

The Commerce Ministry said Tuesday that it would relax import tariffs and regulation on food, water and some consumer goods in short supply as a result of hoarding.

Editor:Zhang Jianfeng |Source: Global Times

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