Thailand’s Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra almost breaks down as she warns that Bangkok is “fighting against the forces of nature” amid heavy flooding.

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Bangkok ‘fighting the forces of nature’

Thursday 27 October 2011

Thailand’s Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra almost breaks down as she warns that Bangkok is “fighting against the forces of nature” amid heavy flooding.

Thailand is dealing with its worst flooding for half a century, caused in part by unusually heavy monsoon rain, in which 373 people have died since mid-July. Around 2.5m people’s lives have been disrupted.

So far, Bangkok has escaped the worst of the flooding which has swamped the north and central provinces. But Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who only came to power in August, said the crisis was now at a critical point for Bangkok.

The authorities have declared a five-day holiday so people can leave the Thai capital.

It seems like we’re fighting against the forces of nature…what we can do now is manage it, otherwise everybody will suffer. Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra

Prime Minister Shinawatra said: “It seems like we’re fighting against the forces of nature, massive floodwater that is causing damage to several of our dykes,” she said. “What we can do now is to manage it, so that it flows slowly, otherwise everybody will suffer.”

As Yingluck’s voice started to tremble, reporters asked if she was crying.

“No, I haven’t cried and I won’t. I’ll be strong to solve this problem for the Thai people. Right now we need to release floodwater to the sea as soon as possible and we need a quick rehabilitation plan,” she said.

Capital under threat

Bangkok, a city of at least 12 million people that accounts for 41 percent of GDP, is in danger from run-off water from the north coinciding with high tides on the Chao Phraya river, which is already at a record high level in places.

One of the city’s aiports and seven industrial estates around Bangkok have been forced to close.

Photo gallery of the worst floods to hit Thailand in 50 years

Bangkok governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra, who has said many parts of the capital could be in danger by the weekend, said not all of the city would be hit.

“As the person in charge of Bangkok, I believe that the water will not flood every district. Some districts might not be inundated,” he told reporters.

The defence ministry said 50,000 armed forces personnel were standing by with 1,000 boats and 1,000 vehicles to help evacuate people. The government crisis centre said there would soon be evacuation centres in eight provinces that could take in between 100,000 and 200,000 people.

And Prime Minister Yingluck has said floodwater could remain in the capital for up to a month, hitting the country’s economy and tourist trade.

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