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Thai PM to skip APEC summit due to flood crisis
by Staff Writers
Bangkok (AFP) Nov 8, 2011

Thailand's prime minister said on Tuesday she would miss an Asia-Pacific summit in Hawaii this weekend, postponing her debut on the world stage to deal with the kingdom's worst floods in half a century.

The announcement came as the death toll from the three-month-old disaster climbed to 527 and the floodwaters advanced deeper into the capital.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, facing the first crisis of her fledgling leadership, had been planning to brief leaders at the Asia-Pacific Economic Forum (APEC) about the crisis and boost investor confidence in the country.

But with the mass of water now threatening the heart of Bangkok, a city of 12 million people, Yingluck said she would send Deputy Prime Minister Kittirat Na-Ranong, who is also the commerce minister, on her behalf.

"I think that at this time all Thai people must help" in the flood crisis, she told reporters about her decision.

Yingluck said she would discuss with her cabinet whether to attend a gathering of Southeast Asian leaders in Bali next week.

The November 12-13 APEC meeting would have been the first international summit for Yingluck, a political novice and sister of fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra who only came to power three months ago.

APEC is a 21-member Asia-Pacific bloc that encompasses more than half of the world economy and includes the United States, China, Japan and Australia.

Yingluck's administration has faced criticism over its handling of the flood crisis, and heading to Honolulu in the midst of the disaster would have provided easy ammunition for her political opponents.

The Thai floods, triggered by months of unusually heavy rains, have damaged the homes and livelihoods of millions around the country.

The waters also forced the closure of thousands of factories -- interrupting global supply chains, putting more than half a million people temporarily out of work and costing the economy billions of dollars.

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Flooded Bangkok hires more binmen as trash mounts
Bangkok (AFP) Nov 8, 2011 - Thailand plans to hire at least 2,000 extra rubbish collectors in the capital Bangkok to tackle a mountain of trash that has piled up in inundated areas, officials said on Tuesday.

About one-fifth of the Thai capital is submerged in floodwater contaminated by rubbish, dead animals and industrial waste, raising fears about outbreaks of disease in the densely populated city of 12 million people.

Rubbish collectors, some of whom have resorted to using boats instead of trucks, have struggled to reach badly-hit districts in the past two weeks, leaving hundreds of tonnes of uncollected rubbish to clog up Bangkok's streets.

Bangkok governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra told reporters the city would hire 150 additional collectors in each affected district for the rest of 2011 and give them the necessary equipment to reach swamped neighbourhoods.

The capital already employs about 17,000 refuse collectors and road sweepers.

More than 1.7 million people have been told to evacuate 12 out of Bangkok's 50 districts, while partial evacuations have been ordered in five others.

But many residents have chosen to stay in their homes despite risks including electrocution, disease and lack of food and drinking water.

The floods are the worst to hit Thailand in decades. Triggered by heavy monsoon rains that began three months ago, they have killed 527 people nationwide and are expected to plague Bangkok for several more weeks at least.

On average, the city collects some 8,500 tonnes of rubbish each day and an official at the BMA's environment department said that less than half of the waste in flood-affected districts was being cleared.


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Floods show what lies ahead for sinking Bangkok
Bangkok (AFP) Nov 7, 2011
The Thai capital, built on swampland, is slowly sinking and the floods currently besieging Bangkok could be merely a foretaste of a grim future as climate change makes its impact felt, experts say. The low-lying metropolis lies just 30 kilometres (18 miles) north of the Gulf of Thailand, where various experts forecast sea level will rise by 19 to 29 centimetres (7 to 11 inches) by 2050 as a ... read more

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