Tuesday, October 04, 2011

BANGKOK — Thailand's worst monsoon floods in decades have killed 224 people and affected three quarters of the country, including part of the ancient city of Ayutthaya, according to officials.

Two months of flooding have inundated 58 of Thailand's 77 provinces -- with 25 still severely affected -- and damaged the homes or livelihoods of millions of people, according to the government.

"It's the worst flooding yet in terms of the amount of water and people affected," said an official at the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation who preferred not to be named.

Wat Chaiwatthanaram, one of Ayutthaya's best known temples, has been closed to visitors after a makeshift dyke was breached at the former capital, a popular tourist destination north of Bangkok.

"The water level inside the temple grounds is now 1.50 metres," said Supoj Prommanoch, head of the Fine Arts Office in Ayutthaya, located north of the capital Bangkok.

But he said the authorities were confident they could prevent the floods from reaching Ayutthaya's main World Heritage Park, which is located further away from Chao Phraya River.

The northern city of Chiang Mai, another popular tourist destination, has been badly hit and the authorities are battling to stop the floods reaching central Bangkok.

"The current flood situation is the worst that I have ever seen and it will last until the first week of November," said independent flood expert Royal Chitradon, director of Thai Integrated Water Resource Management.

Diamond stud

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