Thailand’s government approved a 2.9 billion baht ($97 million) special budget to help victims of the nation’s worst flooding in five decades, as authorities in Bangkok worked to strengthen the city’s defenses.
The government will give 5,000 baht to each family in some of the worst-hit areas as part of its wider relief effort, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said today after a Cabinet meeting.
Thailand’s floods have spread to a third of the country, leaving 56 dead since Oct. 10, according to the Emergency Medical Institute of Thailand. The government said today that output from the main rice crop may fall 6.5 percent, and Kasikornbank Pcl warned the disaster may shave 1 percentage point from the nation’s economic growth in the fourth quarter.
At least 2.8 million people have been affected by the floods, and water has damaged 3.2 million rai (1.3 million acres) of agricultural land, the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation said today in a statement. Floodwaters have receded in nine provinces, leaving 25 still affected, it said.
Authorities in Bangkok are reinforcing the city’s flood- protection system amid concern the Chao Phraya river may overflow as tides peak, the Nation newspaper reported.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who stopped in Bangkok today on a four-nation tour, expressed his “deep profound sympathy” to the flood victims.
“It is a stark reminder of the reality of climate change,” he told reporters in Bangkok, adding that he discussed with Abhisit ways the UN could work with Southeast Asian nations to address global warming.
Bangkok escaped floods because of a lower-than-expected high-tide earlier today, Agence France-Presse reported, citing the city’s Governor, Sukhumbhand Paribatra, who inspected the situation by helicopter.
Cyclones and higher-than-normal monsoon rains have deluged parts of Southeast Asia this month, killing hundreds of people and affecting millions in key rice-producing regions. More than 84 people were killed in Myanmar when Tropical Cyclone Giri lashed the country’s west coast at the weekend, the Irrawaddy reported today, citing local residents.
Rice production in Thailand, the world’s biggest exporter of the grain, may fall by at least 1.5 million metric tons from last year’s 23 million tons, Prasert Gosalvitra, head of the Rice Department, said by phone from Bangkok today.
The government has halted sales of rice from state stockpiles because of concern that floods will damage crops and reduce production of the grain, deputy government spokesman Marut Masayawanit said at a briefing today.
Damage from flooding may cut gross domestic product by 1 percentage point in the fourth quarter and by 0.24 percentage point for the full year, Kasikorn Research Center said in a statement.
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