Catastrophic flooding that has swept thrugh 30 provinces and killed six people is now threatening Bangkok with water levels not seen since 2011.
Burst river banks, mountain runoff and storms have threatened more than 70,000 families nationwide. Four major dams – Bhumibol, Sirikit, Pasak Jolasid and Kwae Noi Bamrung Daen – are full and unable to absorb the vast quantities of water dumped by the storms, including Tropical Storm Dianmu.
Combined capacity is down to 12 billion cu. meters, said Royal Irrigation Department Director-General Prapit Chanma.
Department Deputy Director-General Thaweesak Thana-dachopol said the department is in a race against time to divert excess floodwaters to the Chao Phraya River before the upcountry runoff hits.
He warned that floods likely will inundate residential areas and riverfront communities along the the floodwalls of the Chao Phraya, including in Bangkok.
Soldiers on Tuesday placed barriers and sandbags around archaeological ruins and landmarks, along with neighborhoods in the old royal capital of Ayutthaya, some 60 kilometers north of Bangkok.
But Thaweesak’s boss, Prapit, tried to downplay the severity of the threat facing Bangok, saying the current flood crisis cannot be compared with the epic 2011 disaster when when the country was hit by five consecutive tropical storms, leaving industrial estates and parts of Bangkok thought to be flood-proof under water for months. More than 500 people died.
Satellite images provided by the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency showed the excessive water making its way toward the capital. Curretnly, however, floods currently are limited to riverside and connected communities, the images show.
Irrigation officials are combatting the downhill flow with creative diversion of water discharged from each dam.
The water station in Nakhon Sawan’s Muang district is discharging about 2,400-2,500 cu. meters a second, compared with a discharge of more than 4,000 cu. meters a second in 2011.
In Chai Nat, the RID diverted water to the sides of the swollen Khlong Makham Thao or Klong Chai Nat-Pak Sak rivers.
While Bangkok currently remains dry, another 30 provinces aren’t as lucky. And five people in Lop Buri and one in Phetchabun died in the flooding with two others still missing.
Most of the 71,096 households affected are in danger of being displaced as many regions are seeing people forced to move to higher grounds.