UNESCO offers help for flood-hit Ayutthaya World Heritage site

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BANGKOK, Oct 7 – The United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) on Friday offered the Thai authorities emergency assistance for the ancient city of Ayutthaya now affected by heavy flooding, if it is needed.

In a statement released here on Friday, the Bangkok-based UNESCO Asia-Pacific regional headquarters said the World Heritage site of Ayutthaya, which occupies the western half of the inner island of Ayutthaya, now faces the threat of inundation as water levels continue to rise.

Monuments and temples outside the site perimeter (technically not part of the World Heritage-designated zone), including the spectacular Wat Chaiwattanaram on the opposite bank of the river, have already been flooded for days.

The statement quoted local authorities on-site as saying that if the inner city could not be protected, flooding might be even more serious than the major flood of 1995, and could affect the whole city, including the entire World Heritage property.

The heritage site managers said that after the water subsides, they may need help from UNESCO for a damage survey and emergency preparedness planning to minimise damage from future incidents, the statement said.

The world cultural body said Thailand was eligible to apply for emergency assistance from the World Heritage Fund. The assistance may be requested to undertake emergency measures or to draw up an emergency plan for safeguarding the property.

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