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Residents flee flood in Thai capital

(Xinhua)

08:20, October 28, 2011

Thai residents are transported on a vehicle through floodwaters in Laksi district of Bangkok, capital of Thailand, Oct. 27, 2011. (Xinhua/Rachen Sageamsak)

BANGKOK, Oct. 27 (Xinhua) -- Residents are either fleeing or ready to leave the Thai capital Bangkok as flood continues to spread on Thursday.

The government has declared a five-day special holiday from Oct. 27 to 31 in Bangkok and 20 other flood-hit provinces to allow residents to flee flood.

The Flood Relief Operations Center (FROC) has called for evacuation, saying that Bangkok residents should take the opportunity of the special holiday to visit tourist destinations or go and stay with relatives in flood-free provinces.

Bangkok's Mor Chit bus terminal is crowded with people waiting to escape floods in Bangkok. Tour bus operators say they don' t have enough buses to meet the surging demand.

Suvarnabhumi Airport, the only functioning airport in Bangkok after runway of Don Mueang Airport in northern Bangkok was inundated on Tuesday, is also packed with people trying to flee flood.

Most hotel rooms in Pattaya are occupied as people rushed out of Bangkok to take refuge in the resort town about 150 kilometers southeast of Bangkok.

Hotels in the town have agreed to reduce the price by 50 to 70 percent to enable the people from Bangkok to stay between two weeks and one month, said Patcharin Sawetrat, assistant director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand's Pattaya office.

The flood has been worsening since two dykes in northern Bangkok's Don Mueang district were breached Thursday.

A large amount of water is flowing into the Don Mueang Airport, home to the Flood Relief Operations Center, swamping many cars parked in the airport by drivers who believed it was comparatively safe from floods.

Local media reported that airport officials have switched off electricity at the main breaker. But there was no report on the relocation of the FROC as of 6 p.m..

About 50,000 soldiers, 1,000 boats and 1,000 trucks are on standby to help flood-hit people evacuate under a plan approved by the cabinet to cope with flooding in Bangkok, defence spokesman Col. Thanathip Sawangsaeng said Thursday.

More than 100 schools in 23 districts of Bangkok would host up to 10,000 evacuees, especially those from Don Mueang, Sai Mai, Bang Phlat and Thawi Watthana districts.

If the situation deteriorates, Science and Technology Minister Plodprasop Surasawadi has the authority to decide whether to order all people in Bangkok to evacuate, Thanathip said.

The death toll from the worst floods in over 50 years which has been ravaging north and central Thailand since mid-July soared to 373 on Thursday, Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department chief Wibul Sanguanpong said.

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