Floodwaters spill into northern Bangkok

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Millions of nervous Bangkok residents were warned Friday to move their belongings to safety as the kingdom’s worst floods in decades poured into the outskirts of the sprawling city.
In a desperate attempt to drain the mass of muddy water, the authorities have opened all of Bangkok’s sluice gates to allow the floods to flow through canals and rivers in the low-lying capital and into the Gulf of Thailand.
The move should ease pressure on vulnerable flood barriers on the northern edge of the city of 12 million people, but it increases the threat to Bangkok itself, where some outlying residential areas were inundated on Friday.
People were advised to move their possessions to higher floors or safe areas after the government admitted the sea of water bearing down on the capital from the central plains was unstoppable.
“I ask all Bangkok residents to move your belongings to higher ground as a precaution, but they should not panic. It’s preparation,” said Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who has described the crisis as “overwhelming.”
Three months of heavy monsoon rains have killed at least 342 people in Thailand and damaged the homes and livelihoods of millions of others, mostly in the north and centre.
Tens of thousands of people have been forced to seek refuge in shelters, including 33-year-old Nonglak Yodnankham who fled the approaching water in Pathumthani province just north of Bangkok.
“The flood was following behind us when we ran away. Within five minutes, it was already up to my waist,” she told AFP at an emergency shelter at Bangkok’s number two airport, Don Mueang, protected by 10,000 sandbags.
The waters were already seeping into the capital too, leaving little doubt that large areas of the metropolis would be inundated. The only uncertainty was how deep the floods would be and whether the city centre would be hit.