UNESCO to assess flood-affected Ayutthaya World Heritage site

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BANGKOK, Oct 12 – The Thai government has requested UNESCO, the world cultural body, to undertake a mission to the historic former capital of Siam, Ayutthaya, north of Thailand’s present capital of Bangkok, to assess the impact of flood damage to the World Heritage property.

The World Heritage property of Ayutthaya, which occupies the western half of the inner island of Ayutthaya, has been flooded for more than a week. Monuments and temples on the outside perimeter of the site (technically not part of the World Heritage property), such as Wat Chaiwattanaram on the opposite bank of the river, have also been inundated.

The mission to Ayutthaya, which will include relevant national authorities and experts, is to be arranged in the near future by Thailand’s Office of the Prime Minister, UNESCO (the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation) said in its statement released here on Wednesday.

Thailand is also preparing to apply for emergency assistance from the World Heritage Fund, the statement said, adding that under the terms of the fund, assistance may be granted for emergency measures or to draw up an emergency plan to safeguard the property.

The historic city of Ayutthaya was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1991.

Founded in about the year 1350 on the western calendar, Ayutthaya was the second Siamese capital after Sukhothai. Its remains, characterised by prang (reliquary towers) and gigantic monasteries, give an idea of its past splendour.