The flood waters have left 70,000 homes under water and at least 46 have been completely destroyed, according to Tharit Pengdit, a senior government official. People evacuated to safer places are being housed in more than 500 temporary shelters.
The police are racing to declare the areas safe before they deteriorate further. The central government announced on Wednesday that 13.5 million people were either affected by the flooding or were affected by its impact.
“There are four main storms,” said Songkran Wongpirate, director-general of the meteorological department. “We are preparing for all four. It is one big monsoon.”
This one began with Tropical Storm Ompong, and then strengthened to a tropical depression, which later merged with Tropical Storm Trami, and forced thousands of tourists to evacuate. No fatalities have been reported, but there have been some casualties in Malaysia, Cambodia and Vietnam.
“With the construction of the third main bridge, Bangkok’s flood problem became bigger,” said Jitraporn Premphan, Thailand’s deputy prime minister. “In the last 20 years we see the population and the development of highrises as well as roads and pavements mean the metro [transit system] is completely flooded and the situation worsens on a daily basis.”
“It is very difficult to comprehend the depth of the flooded roads,” a reader on Facebook wrote. “I love this city. But the central business district is like a huge garbage dump.”
Today, the waters have reached the levels of 1999, the worst flooding in Thailand’s history. That year, at least 1,200 people died as flood waters raced through Bangkok and set off wildfires in neighboring islands.
The current disaster has generated a sense of panic — especially in the capital, where businesses are closing and students plan to miss classes for the duration of the crisis. “Thai authorities are so overrun with panic that they are frantically flailing their hands and shouting, ‘Run!’” wrote Sidney Jones, an independent analyst. “They are so overwhelmed that even the forestry department has begun preparing to use helicopters and generators to move wild wild boars from the flooded area to a safe island. This is how panicked it is,” she wrote.