Floodwaters lapped Bangkok’s largest outdoor market Saturday as officials warned that there were no major barriers between the water and the heart of the Thai capital, less than 6 miles (10 kilometers) away.
The country’s worst flooding in half a century has affected more than a third of the country’s provinces and killed almost 450 people nationwide. It has been spreading across Bangkok’s north and west for more than a week, and officials have been struggling to protect the economically vital center of the city of 9 million people.
Hoping to divert some of the mass of water still piled up in northern Bangkok, workers Friday night completed a 3.7-mile (6-kilometer) flood wall made from massive, hastily assembled sandbags, said Bangkok city spokesman Jate Sopitpongstorn. But the city will have to rely on its existing drainage system to fight water that was already beyond the wall and just a few miles (kilometers) from the central business district, he said.
Over the past two decades, the city’s much enlarged and improved drainage system has been able to effectively siphon off water during monsoon seasons with average rainfall. But it will be put to a severe test given the volume of water not seen in Bangkok since perhaps a great flood in the 1940s.