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Thailand Floods Kill 7 People, Spread to 13 Provinces

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Oct. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Thailand’s government said at least seven people died and transport routes were cut as floods spread across 13 provinces following heavy rains.

“These are the most severe floods at least in the past four years affecting agricultural and economics areas,” Pongsatorn Sirisakorn, an official at the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, said by phone today.

Floodwaters that have inundated parts of Thailand’s central, eastern and northeastern provinces could threaten Bangkok if heavy rains continue, the disaster agency said. The capital, which is less than 2 meters above sea level, sustained almost 12 billion baht ($401 million) of damage during heavy flooding in 1995, according to government estimates.

“If the rain continues and pushes water levels in reservoirs above their limits at the same time that the sea water level rises, the situation in Bangkok will be worrisome,” said Wiboon Sanguanpong, the agency’s director general. At least 13 people have died in floods since July, he said.

A La Nina weather event this year has brought heavier-than-usual rainfall to parts of Australia and Asia, including Thailand. In the Philippines, at least 10 people died as Typhoon Megi crossed the nation’s most populous island and headed toward China’s southern coast earlier today.

Rice, Rubber Crops

In Thailand, industry groups have blamed persistent rains for a drop in production of rice and natural rubber. Floods since Sept. 10 have affected 54,841 people and damaged 32,428 rai (12,821 acres) of agricultural area, according to the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation.

Thailand’s rice-growing region stretches over 71 million rai. The head of the nation’s Rice Department, Prasert Gosalvitra, declined to give an immediate estimate of crop damage.

The government will provide compensation to people affected by the floods, including farmers whose crops were damaged, Panitan Wattanayagorn, government spokesman, said after a weekly cabinet meeting. “The government will accelerate budget disbursement to urgently assist flood victims,” he said.

The cabinet today authorized the Ministry of Finance to double a provincial emergency budget to 100 million baht ($3.35 million), Panitan said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Supunnabul Suwannakij in Bangkok at ssuwannakij@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tony Jordan at tjordan3@bloomberg.net

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