Bangkok, often described as "the Venice of the East" -- is living up to its name all too well -- it is sinking.
BANGKOK, THAILAND (AUGUST 15.16, 1982) (REUTERS)
GV Bridge under construction cover Chao Phya River
GV Flooded construction site
SV PULL BACK TO GV Flooded building site near pagoda
SV Woman and child crossing flooded road, near freeway under construction
GV Traffic on cracked roads (2 shots)
SV EXTERIOR Supermarket surround by cracked and sinking pavement (3 shots)
SV INTERIOR Cracked and sunken floor in supermarket
GV PAN Man wading through flooded street
GV Men unloaded vehicle on flooded street
GV & SV Traffic moving along flooded road (2 shots)
Background: Bangkok, often described as "the Venice of the East" -- is living up to its name all too well -- it is sinking. Experts there are hoping that the bicentennial of Thailand's capital city focus attention on this gravest of problems. The severe land subsidence is caused by uncontrolled tapping of underground were supplies to provide surface water for the ever-growing population. As a result, some areas of the city are sinking by 10.16 centimetres (four inches) a year, and the worst-affected areas by as much as almost 14 centimetres (5 1/2 inches). The city already suffers severe flooding during its annual rainy season. All this means that areas that were above sea-level only three years ago are now below it. Residents and the many tourists can see evidence of the problem all over the city. Pavement are subsiding around buildings, leaving substantial gaps; and crack continue to appear on walls. Roads are frequently flooded, as are open areas, such as construction sites. Experts say that, unless action is taken, Bangkok could be entirely below sea-level in 20 years.