Israel prepared to send emergency aid to Thailand on Friday, in response to
flooding that has killed 377 since July.RELATED:
J'lem sends aid as Turkey calls for pressure on Israel
A Home Front Command delegation
of experts in rescue and medical logistics will fly to Thailand, Channel 10
reported. Israel will also send rescue equipment and medical
“The IDF attaches great importance to assisting
disaster-stricken areas,” an army official said.
On Saturday, Thai Prime
Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said that receding flood-waters north of Bangkok had
reduced the threat to the Thai capital, but high tides in the Gulf of Thailand
will still test the city’s flood defenses.
“If things go on like this, we
expect floodwater in Bangkok to recede within the first week of November,” she
said on national television.
Bangkok’s main waterway, the Chao Phraya
River, overflowed its banks in some areas on Saturday during high tides in the
Gulf of Thailand, about 20 km. to the south. The high tides will last until
The city’s normally bustling Chinatown was flooded, as were the
streets around the glittering Grand Palace and the Temple of the Reclining
Buddha, areas usually thronged with tourists.
Buildings across Bangkok
have been sandbagged or walled off for protection. Many people have left their
cars on elevated roads, although most of the inner city is dry.
others have taken advantage of a special five-day holiday to flee the city.
Those left behind have stocked up on water, food, life jackets and even
Thailand's worst floods in half a century have killed 381 people
since July, wiped out a quarter of the main rice crop in the world’s biggest
rice exporter, forced up global prices of computer hard drives and caused delays
in global auto production after destroying industrial zones.
toll rose overnight when a boat carrying a family of four capsized in strong
wind, drowning the father, mother and eldest son in three-meter floodwater.
Their six-year-old daughter, the only one wearing a life vest,
In Bangkok, which was sunny on Saturday, prices of eggs have
quadrupled as jittery residents stockpile staples. Many shop shelves are empty
but the government said flood victims would have enough bottled water, dairy
products, pork and chicken.
Cash was also in heavy demand. The Bank of
Thailand has repeated that there is enough money circulating to meet demand for
three months following a crush of withdrawals.
Nearly 400 bank branches
have closed across the country due to the floods.
The floods, which
followed unusually heavy monsoon rain, have submerged 4 million acres (1.6
million hectares) of land, an area roughly the size of Kuwait or Swaziland,
turning some towns into urban reservoirs.
In some areas, crocodiles have
escaped from flooded farms and snakes searching for dry land have slithered into
The prime minister said the ebbing flood in northern provinces,
thanks to the draining of water into the sea through canals and pumps, had
reduced the risk of large volumes bearing down on Bangkok, which sits only two
meters above sea level.
“In this critical situation, there is some good
news for us. Our water-management plan went smoothly during previous days,” she
said, offering the city the first encouraging words in days.
also cautiously optimistic central Bangkok’s network of embankments and sand-bag
walls would hold.
“We have to conclude that it’s under control, but we
still have to do as much as we can to maintain the dikes,” said Anon Sanitwong
Na Ayutthaya, an academic on the government’s flood team.
Supharatid, director of the Disaster Warning Center at Rangsit University, said
coordination between city, provincial and national authorities was
“If the government can manage the pumping system smoothly, with
good cooperation, we may see the water receding by early November,” he
Although Yingluck expressed confidence inner Bangkok could be
spared, the city’s suburbs faced growing misery.
Authorities expect the
whole of Thonburi district, on the west bank of the Chao Phraya, to be inundated
within three days, and Yingluck said the water would remain high due to a lack
of canals. Seventeen roads across Bangkok are closed.
district of Thonburi, packed with restaurants, shops and homes, was under
waist-deep water. Some residents waded through the flood, lugging televisions and
People in Bangkok’s northern Sai Mai district sat on rafts
built of plastic bottles and wooden crates. Shop owners perched on sandbags,
staring out at roads turned into rivers.
Water levels appeared to have
risen in the riverside Bang Phlad district, also to the west, with many people
using boats to make their way through the rubbish-strewn flow.
Phraya is rising as much as 2.6 meters above sea level over the high tides and
many governments have warned their citizens against nonessential travel to the
city of 12 million people. Singapore Airlines said it was suspending its Bangkok
flights from this Tuesday to Thursday.
Authorities have called for
evacuations in four of Bangkok’s 50 districts. Japanese engineers have been
flown in to advise on how to protect the main international airport and the
subway. Authorities have built a 23.5-km.
dike around the airport and
have reassured travelers it would hold.
Bangkok accounts for 41 percent
of Thailand’s $319 billion economy. But even if the inner city is spared, the
deluge in industrialized provinces to the north has had a global
Thailand is the second-largest exporter of computer hard drives
and Southeast Asia’s biggest auto production hub. Global prices for hard drives
are rising due to a flood-related shortage of major components used in personal
Drive manufacturers have raised prices by 20 to 40 percent
since water poured into factories this month, Chuck Kostalnick, senior vice
president of international electronics distributor Avnet Inc, told
“The word we’re getting is that prices are going to continue to
go up,” he said.