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One-third of Thailand 'disaster' area: govt
by Staff Writers
Bangkok (AFP) Oct 12, 2011

Thailand on Wednesday declared a third of its provinces to be disaster zones, as auto giant Toyota called a halt to work after production was affected by the country's worst flooding in decades.

The government's move aims to speed up relief operations, as the floods have left at least 281 people dead and damaged millions of homes and livelihoods in more than two months.

"The government has announced that all provinces affected by the floods are critical disaster areas, allowing governors to exercise more authority to issue materials and manage budgets," deputy premier Yongyuth Wichaidit said.

Currently 26 out of 77 provinces are affected, while the capital Bangkok is bracing for a large amount of run-off water to reach the city in mid-October, when high tides will make it harder for the flood waters to flow out to sea.

Officials have bolstered flood defences at the main airport and other areas to shield the city of 12 million people, a number of whom have been stocking up on sandbags, non-perishable food and other essential items.

Areas just north of the capital have already seen water up to several metres deep. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said that those living outside the beefed-up defences needed to prepare themselves for flooding.

"If inner Bangkok is flooded, it will only flood a little, but we should be concerned for those who live outside the barriers," she told the press on a visit to a flood relief operations centre at Bangkok airport.

The premier met King Bhumibol Adulyadej on Wednesday to discuss the crisis.

Japan's biggest automaker Toyota said that production at its three Thailand plants would be halted at least until Saturday.

While floods have not directly impacted its Samrong, Gateway and Ban Pho operations, Toyota said they have caused disruption to parts supply.

Operations at the three plants have been halted since Monday and the company will decide Saturday on whether to resume production.

The flooding has also stuck countries neighbouring Thailand, including Cambodia, where more than 200 people have died. In Vietnam, the toll has risen to 34 and officials say most of the dead are children.

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Toll from storm rises to six in Philippines
Manila (AFP) Oct 12, 2011 - The death toll from the latest tropical storm to hit the typhoon-ravaged Philippines rose to six on Wednesday with nine others missing in landslides, flooding and heavy winds, officials said.

Among the dead were a miner killed by a landslide caused by heavy rains and a man who was electrocuted by a power line brought down by strong winds, local officials said.

Rescuers earlier said four schoolchildren drowned on Monday while crossing a river swollen by rains unleashed by tropical storm Banyan.

Most of the missing were fishermen, said Benito Ramos, the head of the disaster response agency said.

Sea travel and domestic flights to the affected areas near the central island of Panay were cancelled due to the storm.

The storm came just two weeks after two typhoons, Nesat and Nalgae hit the country within days of each other, leaving more than 100 people dead and at least 27 missing.

More than 60,000 people are still huddled in government evacuation centres after the twin typhoons left massive flooding in the agricultural areas north of the Philippine capital.


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Thailand beefs up airport flood defences
Bangkok (AFP) Oct 11, 2011
Thailand has bolstered flood defences at Bangkok's main airport and other areas as it works to shield the city of 12 million people from the worst inundation in decades, officials said Tuesday. Flood protection walls have been raised to a height of up to 3.5 metres (11.5 feet) at Suvarnabhumi, the country's main air hub, Airports of Thailand (AOT) acting director Somchai Sawasdipol told AFP. ... read more

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