NPR logo Widespread Flooding In Southeast Asia Kills Hundreds


Widespread Flooding In Southeast Asia Kills Hundreds

This AP video from October 14, 2011 shows flooding in Bangkok's suburbs, while workers try to protect the Thai capital

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Bangkok and its suburbs are the latest area to feel the brunt of heavy flooding brought on by months of monsoon rain and tropical storms in Southeast Asia. Dams outside the Thai capital may not be enough to restrain growing floodwaters; Bangkok's governor is asking volunteers to lay more than a million sandbags to protect the city from the fate of its inundated northern suburb, Pathumthani.

The crisis facing Thailand is one part of an unprecedented flooding disaster across Southeast Asia that's killed more than 700 people, according to the United Nations. The UN's death toll comes from victims in Cambodia and Thailand, but at least 55 people have been killed in neighboring Vietnam since August, the AP finds.

Most of the Vietnamese deaths are of children and many lived in the Mekong Delta region, which flows into the South China Sea.

The head of the Thai Red Cross says this is the worst monsoon season since 1949 and tells ReliefWeb this year's tropical storms made conditions much worse. The group estimates 2.3 million people have been affected by four months of rain. Now the UN warns millions of people in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam also face the chance of injury and death, along with substantial crop and property damage.

The water has spoiled rice crops in Thailand and Vietnam, or damaged roads and interrupted rice deliveries. The Kipp Report examined whether the crop losses will drive up rice costs and have world repercussions: "A jump in the price of rice, a staple for half the world's population, could be inflationary across parts of Asia and squeeze the budgets of millions living near the poverty line."