neisloss ayutthaya dries out_00004913
Famed Thai temple site re-emerges
02:08 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Prime Minister: The water level recedes, but draining in some areas are slow

The flooding leaves migrant workers from Myanmar abandoned in one province

A complex of cement construction materials is now housing for displaced residents

The death toll reaches 537, and 22 provinces remain affected

Samut Sakorn, Thailand CNN  — 

The mammoth flooding that has deluged much of Thailand, killing hundreds, appears to be subsiding.

But steep challenges remain for displaced residents and migrant workers abandoned by their employers.

The heavily industrial Samut Sakorn province employs hundreds of thousands of migrant workers from Myanmar, according to estimates from Thai and Myanmar officials.

But when floodwaters overtook numerous factories in the area, some business owners simply fled – leaving employees without their documents or pay.

“During the flood … Myanmar workers are the second class, so the priority goes to the Thai workers,” said Naing Tan, Myanmar’s deputy ambassador to Thailand.

One migrant worker, 20-year-old Nun Nwee Hlaing, painted toys at a toy factory in Samut Sakorn. She said she kept working when floodwaters covered her ankles, but when the water got chest-high, her boss took off without saying a word.

Hlaing is now taking refuge at a temple in the town of Mahathai.

On Monday, a Thai provincial official, the Myanmar diplomat and a priest at the temple met to discuss the refugees’ plight and agreed to let migrant workers working legally in the country stay.

Dechar Teuktattanaruk, head of the provincial employment office, said the government will try to find temporary work for them.

But undocumented workers like Hlaing would have to go back to Myanmar.

Elsewhere, in Pathum Thani province, dozens of area residents established makeshift homes in prefabricated cement shells intended for use in the construction of Bangkok’s elevated skyway.

The company that owns the forms has told their new occupants they can stay, and it’s letting them tap into electric lines for light.

Most of the forms’ new residents are from the same flood-ravaged community a short boat ride away. Some floated with their most prized possessions with them.

“I own a small shop and when it started to flood, I moved all my goods to my house,” said a woman named Jaew, who lives in a concrete form with her family of five. “Then, a few days later, my house got flooded. And when the water was up to my neck, we moved here.”

The deluge has killed 537 people, and 22 provinces remain affected, according to the Thai department of disaster prevention and mitigation.

“The latest flood situation has improved, (and the) water level in general has receded,” Yingluck Shinawatra said on her Facebook page Monday. “Diverting water into the sea can be done at (a) faster manner in the eastern part of Bangkok. In the west of Bangkok, draining water is slow, but the government has dredged canals to speed up draining water.”

Bangkok’s main airport, Suvarnabhumi Airport, is operating normally.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will visit Thailand on Wednesday during a three-day trip to southeast Asia and plans to visit flood-stricken areas in Bangkok, the U.N. said Monday.

CNN’s Kocha Olarn contributed to this report from Bangkok