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Thai flood causes dike breakage, threatening area village

From Kocha Olarn and Paula Hancocks, CNN
October 26, 2011 -- Updated 0352 GMT (1152 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Residents of Muang Ake village are being urged to evacuate after parts of an area dike broke
  • The Thai Cabinet announced national holidays to give residents time to prepare for high tide
  • Thailand's Public Health Minister has ordered health units be established to help people dealing with stress caused by flooding
  • Damage from the flood is estimated at more than $6 billion, the government estimates

Bangkok, Thailand (CNN) -- Residents of Thailand's Muang Ake village are being urged to evacuate the area early Tuesday morning, according to Thailand's Flood Relief Operations Center.

The center's director said parts of a dike at Tambon Lak Hok, Muang District, Pathum Thani province have broken and a mass of water is expected to flow into the village.

Flood waters could reach almost five feet (1.5 meters) in the village. The FROC said the Royal Thai Armed Forces will have vehicles at Rangsit University in Muang Ake village and will be moving residents out of the area.

In addition, the Thai Cabinet announced Tuesday public holidays for the end of the month due to anticipated high tides, which could further devastate the flood-ravaged country.

The holidays will be from Thursday to next Monday and will be effective in 21 provinces that are still under water, including Bangkok and its suburban provinces, a government spokeswoman said.

"The government would like to give time to people in affected areas to prepare for floods during high tide periods between (October) 28 to 30. Some people who have houses outside Bangkok could be able to live there during flood period," said Thitima Chaiseang, the government spokeswoman.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra urged employers in both the private and public sectors to allow time off for staff affected by the floods.

Heavy cost of Thai floods

In addition to allowing time off, Thailand's Public Health Minister Wittaya Buranasiri has ordered health units be established to help ease the stress of residents. He said there are about 100,000 people suffering from stress related to the flooding.

Bangkok residents urged not to panic

Also, starting Tuesday, the CEO of Nok Air announced the airline is canceling flights in and out of Bangkok's Don Muang Airport until October 31 due to the "flood crisis." .

Dealing with disaster in Thailand

Pate Sarasin, CEO of Nok Air, posted a Twitter message saying "the water level is now at a critical area at the northern part of the runway." Nok Air is allowing customers to change their flights free of charge.

Flooding impacts Thai businesses

On Monday, floodwaters in Bangkok reached Don Muang Airport, one of the Thai capital's two main airports and home to the flood relief operation command, according to a governor.

In addition to Don Muang, residents in five other areas should prepare for floods, move their belongings to upper floors and take shelter at evacuation centers, Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra said in a news conference on Monday.

Thammasat University's gymnasium, which has been used as an evacuation center, is also flooded and without electricity and is itself being evacuated, the governor added.

As a remedy, about 4,000 people will be bused to Rajamangala Stadium in central Bangkok with the help of 300 to 400 volunteers, according to the governor.

In the east, the industrial estates of Lat Krabang and Bang Chan remained under threat, and volunteers were sought for help with sandbagging.

The governor urged the public not to panic and to follow his reports closely.

Protecting Bangkok was a priority because it comprises the economic heart of Thailand, Prime Minister Yingluck told CNN Sunday. "But it doesn't mean we have no concern for the people who are suffering from the flooding," she added.

The Don Muang airport in Bangkok, Thailand, as seen on Sunday, has become an evacuation center. The Don Muang airport in Bangkok, Thailand, as seen on Sunday, has become an evacuation center.
Flooding threatens Bangkok
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Flooding threatens Bangkok Flooding threatens Bangkok

The decision to divert water through canals in Bangkok means parts of the city and its surrounding suburbs, such as Rangsit, are flooded.

Residents have resorted to moving out of flooded homes by boat or anything that could float -- or wading through water with plastic bags of belongings balanced on their heads or pets tucked into clothes.

The government has called the flooding the worst to afflict the nation in half a century and said some areas might require more than a month before waters recede.

More high tides are expected in the coming week, which could cause rivers to back up, further raising water levels, according to Thailand's Flood Relief Operations Command.

The government has set up more than 1,700 shelters nationwide, and more than 113,000 people have taken refuge.

Many residents waded through dirty water in the capital in recent days, as they made a desperate attempt to save their belongings.

The flooding has already killed 356 people, with nearly 9 million others affected, authorities said.

Overall damage from the floods has risen and could top $6 billion, with the worst yet to come as the waters destroy shops and paralyze factories nationwide, the Thai Finance Ministry said.

Thailand derives a significant portion of its revenue from tourism, which has been hurt by the flooding.

CNN's Kocha Olarn and Karen Smith contributed to this report.

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