Floodwaters have caused hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes, and ravaged huge areas of Thailand and three neighbouring countries.
Floodwaters have caused hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes, and ravaged huge areas of Thailand and three neighbouring countries. A relief operation has started in Thailand's north and central rice bowl areas where more than 90 people have been killed in the floods, and half a million evacuated.
SYNOPSIS: The Thai airforce has been brought into help distribute emergency supplies to the areas of flood disaster. Prime Minister Kriangsak Chamanand has ordered flood-stricken provinces to use all food stocks in their possession until more can be brought in from central agencies. Helicopters are used to take supplies to places inaccessible to the large aircraft. Where food stocks are already exhausted, the emergency supplies are eagerly received by the refugees, who are increasingly threatened by starvation and disease.
The main demand in the flooded areas has been for rice, medicines and blankets for thousands of evacuees in temporary relief camps. Inflatable dinghies are used to rescue many people who have been forced to take refuge on rooftops and even in trees.
Officials in Bangkok and the provinces have called for long-term plans and more money to fight the flood menace. Elsewhere in the region, Vietnam and Laos have both asked for international assistance to make up food losses and property damage. Cambodia is also hard hit. The four countries all have wide areas deep in floodwaters. In Thailand alone, damage to rice crops is estimated by the Interior Ministry to be in excess of 50 million dollars (25 million pounds). The capital of bangkok is itself threatened.
Refugees crowd every available form of water transport, bringing for the authorities the problem of housing them, and fighting the threat of disease in crowded temporary camps. They leave behind houses uninhabitable until the flood waters recede. Observers say it is the worst devastation in the area in recent history.
As the floods receded the people returned to destroyed crops and food shortages that will last for months after the waters dry out.