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Asia Minute: Thailand floods snarl city traffic, threaten rural rice crop

Thailand Floods Ubon Ratchathani province 100322
Nava Sangthong/AP
Residents paddle through floodwaters in Ubon Ratchathani province, northeastern Thailand, Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. Heavy rainfall in northern, northeastern and central Thailand on Monday fueled severe flooding, as some areas were further threatened as the authorities had to order pressure on filled-to-capacity dams eased by releasing water into already overflowing rivers. (AP Photo/Nava Sangthong)

Flood waters are still swamping neighborhoods and roads in coastal Florida and elsewhere on the eastern seaboard. On the other side of the world, they're also disrupting many parts of Thailand.

This time of year, much of Thailand is usually approaching the end of the monsoon rain season.

But this year the rains are lingering — and pounding many parts of the country.

Some streets in Bangkok were under more than a foot of water earlier this week, despite tens of thousands of sandbags deployed along the sides of the roads.

City officials in the national capital are asking private company employees to work from home for the rest of the week to clear traffic congestion during what is expected to be several days of more heavy rains.

While cities are dealing with flooded streets and traffic, rural areas are facing severe crop damage from extended flooding.

Kasikorn Research Center is watching that closely. The group is affiliated with one of the country’s major banks, which was founded back in the 1940s as the Thai Farmers Bank.

Kasikorn estimates that Thailand’s main rice harvest may fall by about 9% this year — in part because rainfall rates are already about 25% above average since the start of this year.

One glimmer of relative hope for some: the Tourism Authority of Thailand said this week it expects no major disruptions to an international visitor market that’s just beginning to open further.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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