Thai authorities on Tuesday (Sept 28) rushed to protect parts of Bangkok from floodwaters that have already inundated 70,000 homes and killed six people within the country’s northern and central provinces.
Tropical storm Dianmu has caused flooding in 30 provinces, with the country’s central region the worst hit, the Thai Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department said.
The level of the Chao Phraya River – which snakes through Bangkok after winding almost 400km from the north – is steadily rising as authorities release water from dams further upstream.
Soldiers on Tuesday set up barriers and sandbags to guard ancient archaeological ruins and landmarks, also as neighborhoods within the old royal capital Ayutthaya, some 60km north of Bangkok.
There are hopes Bangkok can avoid a repeat of the catastrophic 2011 monsoon season when it experienced its worst flooding in decades – a fifth of the town was underwater and over 500 people died.
The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration says it’s closely monitoring the Chao Phraya’s water level and has water pumps and sandbags ready.
“We will give people a warning if there’s a sign the water level is rising and if there’s a risk of flash floods,” Bangkok governor Aswin Kwanmuang said on Tuesday.
Bangkok officials have begun piling sandbags outside banks and other businesses near a canal in Thonglor – a shopping district and residential area popular with expats.
Once dubbed the “Venice of the East”, the capital is made on former marshland and rests about 1.5 meters above sea level.
In the past, farmland and rice paddies in low-lying areas absorbed flood water, but the city’s expansion has seen much converted into real estate.
The city’s flood prevention masterplan, involving underground reservoirs and tunnels, has not been fully built due to problems acquiring land, local media reported.
Over the weekend, emergency teams staged dramatic rescues evacuating villagers from rooftops in parts of Chaiyaphum province, about four hours north-east of the capital.
A TikTok user filmed a dramatic dog rescue in Lopburi province, as onlookers lowered a shirtless man into the raging torrent to fish out a paddling black pooch on Monday afternoon.