Bangkok enters critical stage as flooding fears rise

27 October 2011 10:58  [Source: ICIS news]

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Bangkok entered a critical phase on Thursday as rising flood waters threatened to break though protective dikes protecting the Thai capital and spill into many areas of the city, including its central business district, according to media reports.

Low-lying Bangkok is in danger from a combination of runoff water from upcountry and high tides on the Chao Phraya river, the reports said.

The river, which winds at least 12 metres (m) through the city, has risen to 2.5m (8.2 feet) on Thursday, with water levels are expected to reach 2.6m by 28 October, Bangkok governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra said in a statement issued by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration.

Water embankments protecting the capital average around 2.5m, according to a daily note from DBS Vickers Securities.

“The floods are expected to peak over this coming weekend as massive flood waters from the central region will reach Bangkok, worsened by tides from the Gulf of Thailand reaching their peaks in the same period,” the brokerage firm said.

The country is facing its worst flooding in 50 years, with at least 373 people killed and more than 9.5m people affected across the country since heavier than usual monsoon rains began lashing the country since mid-July, according to Thailand’s Disaster Relief Operation Center.

An evacuation order has already been issued on the Sai Mai district in the eastern part of Bangkok as the city’s residents began leaving the city at the start of a five-day holiday through to the rest of the month, according to media reports.

Thailand’s government on 25 October declared a public holiday on 27-31 October in Bangkok and 20 other provinces affected by floods.

However, the country’s banks and the stock market will continue operating normally through 31 October, according to the Bank of Thailand.

“Currently, more than 700,000 people have left Bangkok so far,” according to DBS Vickers Securities.

The floods, which are currently affecting a third of all provinces in the country, have caused the seven industrial hubs in Ayutthaya, Nonthaburi and Pathum Thani provinces in the north of Bangkok to shut and resulted in billions of dollars in damages and severe supply disruptions to industry.

The automotive industry has been the worst hit so far, with production and sales to decline in the fourth quarter of this year, DBS Vickers Securities said.

“We estimate the flooding would reduce Thailand’s auto production by 300,000 units to 1.5m units this year, down 9% year on year,” the brokerage firm said.

The floods have also caused the shutdown at plants belonging to Indorama Ventures and Japanese producer Teijin, but overall petrochemical production will likely be unaffected.

Thailand’s petrochemical hub of Map Ta Phut in Rayong province lies safely in the eastern coast of the country.

The country’s central bank has lowered its economic growth forecast to around 3% this year, versus an estimate of 4.1% made previously.

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By: Nurluqman Suratman

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