Facing flood, oldest Thai factory park evacuated

AP News
Posted: Oct 17, 2011 3:28 AM
Facing flood, oldest Thai factory park evacuated

Bangkok breathed easier Monday as barriers protecting the capital from Thailand's worst flooding in decades held firm, but authorities ordered a new evacuation north of the city where floodwaters breached defenses of an industrial park.

The nationwide death toll rose to 307, mostly from drowning. Outside the capital, thousands of people remain displaced and hungry residents were struggling to survive in half-submerged towns. On Sunday, the military rescued terrified civilians from the rooftops of flooded buildings in the swamped city of Ayutthaya, one of the country's hardest-hit.

At the same time, officials were expressing growing optimism that the capital, Bangkok, would be spared thanks to the city's complex system of flood walls, canals, dikes and underground tunnels that help divert vast pools of runoff south into the Gulf of Thailand.

On Monday, the Flood Relief Operation Center ordered all factories at the Nava Nakorn industrial estate in Pathum Thani province just north of Bangkok to halt work and prepare their workers for evacuation.

The order was issued in a live television broadcast after water started to break through makeshift barriers erected the past few days at the estate, which was founded in 1971.

At least four other major industrial parks have been inundated, leaving tens of thousands of workers idle and disrupting supply chains, especially in the automotive and electronic industries.

The flood center's spokesman, Wim Rungwattanajinda, said 200 buses and trucks were ready to take evacuated workers to emergency shelters, including a huge temple complex belonging to the Dhammakaya Buddhist sect that could house as many as 5,000.