Sunday, June 23, 2024
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PM calls for unity as floods threaten Thai capital

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BANGKOK: Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said on Thursday Thailand was in crisis and the government was struggling to cope as the worst floods in half a century threatened to engulf the capital, Bangkok.

Yingluck, under fire for her management of the flooding that has killed at least 320 people since July and devastated industrialised provinces in the centre of the country, called for national unity in the face of the crisis.

”I have to admit the government can’t keep a close eye on every spot. Now is a time of national crisis. Everybody should work together,” she said at a crisis centre set up at Bangkok’s Don Muang airport.

”Blaming each other won’t help. On Thursday we need unity to solve the problem,” she added.

One inner city area was under threat on Thursday after floodwater breached a waterworks canal, officials said.

Shelters for as many as 45,000 people were being prepared as a precaution, as residents of several northern districts packed up their belongings and left or waded waist-deep through normally bustling shopping streets.

The worst flooding in half a century now covers a third of Thailand’s provinces, some 4 million acres (1.6 million hectares) in the north, northeast and centre of the country.

Huge industrial estates to the north of Bangkok have been swamped and the central bank put the damage to industry at more than 100 billion baht ($3.3 billion) on Thursday.

It has been raising interest rates for more than a year to fight inflation but it left them unchanged at a meeting on Wednesday and said on Thursday it was ready to call a special meeting to cut them if necessary. Japan’s Sony Corp said on Thursday it would delay the launch of several new cameras due in November after floods forced it to halt production at some Thai plants.

The output of Japanese car makers has fallen by about 6,000 units a day because of the flooding.

Rice traders and industry analysts said as much as 3.5 million tonnes of paddy, equivalent to 2 million tonnes of milled rice, may have been damaged and loading of 100,000 tonnes may have been delayed because of the flooding.

Thailand is the world’s biggest rice exporter. (UNI)

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