PM asks Bangkokians to brace for flood

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BANGKOK, Oct 21 – Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Friday urged city dwellers to move their belongings to safe locations in preparation for imminent flooding in the capital.

“People in all areas of Bangkok should prepare to move their possessions to cope with the situation,” Ms Yingluck said. “The government’s Flood Relief Operations Centre (FROC) initially designated Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airports as temporary shelters for possible evacuation. More shelters will be designated once the government assesses the water level.”

In case the Bangkok Metropolitan Authorities are unable to cope with the situation, the government’s flood relief centre will manage the situation itself, the premier said. Any help from City Hall is welcome as the country needs full cooperation from all parties to weather the crisis.

“The government has called a meeting of all agencies concerned today to urgently evaluate the situation and inform the public. Evacuation plans, key premises protection as well as spaces for parking a large number of cars will also be considered,” Ms Yingluck said.

The premier announced on Thursday that the government would open Bangkok’s sluice gates to allow the deluge from the North to drain through canals into the Gulf of Thailand. The move sent jitters among Bangkokians and those living in surrounding areas. Throngs of cars could be seen double or even triple parking along expressways.

Shelves at many supermarkets are empty as people hoarded instant foods, bottled waters and necessity items in anticipation of the flood.

Ms Yingluck dismissed the suggestion that her government should impose an emergency decree, saying it would dampen foreign investor confidence and that all sectors including the military are now joining forces to fight against the flood crisis.

Meanwhile, Army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha said almost 40,000 soldiers equipped with life-saving necessities, vehicles and boats are fanning out across flood-hit areas in many provinces to help evacuate people trapped in their homes amid rising water.

The army chief assured the public that 3,000 more soldiers have been assigned to help evacuate people stranded not only in the seven districts declared at risk areas and other vulnerable areas of the capital.