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 Thailand flooding death toll 'tops500'

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PostSubject: Thailand flooding death toll 'tops500'   Sun 06 Nov 2011, 1:06 pm

Three months of heavy rain have affected about a third of
Thailand's province, destroying farmland and forcing tens of
thousands from their homes.
Large parts of the capital Bangkok are also flooded and there are
fears the city centre could yet be worse hit.
The government has announced a 100bn baht ($4bn: £2.5bn)
recovery plan.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said the money would be
used to rebuild homes and businesses and restore the economy,
which has been badly affected.
"The work must be completed in 45 days because people have
suffered for so long already," the Bangkok Post quoted Ms
Yingluck as saying.
She asked for public understanding as the government tackles the
disaster, saying: "I admit that this task has really exhausted me,
but I will never give up."
The authorities have come under criticism for what is perceived as
a slow response to the flooding, and for giving conflicting advice
about evacuations.
The waters are now receding in the north of the country but
Department of Prevention and Mitigation said on Sunday that 506
people were now known to have died since July.
The BBC's Rachel Harvey in Bangkok says doubts are growing
again about whether the authorities will be able to protect the
capital.
The city, which is criss-crossed by rivers and canals, has been
threatened by encroaching water for weeks as the floods drain
towards the sea.
Nobody has died in the capital, but a fifth of the city is now under
water and tens of thousands of residents of eight of the 50
districts have been told to leave their homes.
Rows between the government and the Bangkok administration
about how to handle the crisis have undermined public confidence
in their efforts, says our correspondent.
On Saturday, Bangkok governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra warned
that the city authorities would throw out the central government's
flood management plan and bring in their own unless co-
operation between the two agencies improved, the Bangkok Post
reports.
There are growing concerns about the health problems of large
amounts of polluted water - which is up to chest height in some
areas - flowing through the densely populated city.
Airport flooded
The waters have now reached the Chatuchak market, a major
outdoor shopping centre and tourist attraction north of the
business district.
Many of the thousands of storeholders have followed official
advice and temporarily shut up shop.
"There will be no-one able to come around to sell and to buy. So,
doesn't make sense to keep the market open," Tinnakorn
Rujinarong, deputy director of the market, told the Reuters news
agency.
But others have refused to close, saying they could not risk losing
what trade there was.
"When tourists come here to find this place closed down for too
long, they will not come back again. And it will take a long time to
bring the market back to booming again," said one food stall
trader.
The city's second airport, Don Muang, is under water but the main
international airport at Suvarnabhumi and the city's transport
system are still operating.
Emergency workers are continuing to distribute sandbags and
attempting to divert the water through canals.
However some residents on the edges of Bangkok have accused
the authorities of sacrificing their homes to save the commercial
centre.
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