Thailand has been been hit by the worst monsoon season in 50 years, leaving numerous provinces in central and southern Thailand affected by the the worst flooding seen in recent history. As of October 18th, the death toll was up to 317, with over 2.3 million people directly impacted by the nation’s severe flooding, and with estimated damages of up to 1.5 billion BHT (50 million USD). According to the Federation of Thai Industry, flood damage includes 95 billion in industry; 25 billion in agriculture; and 65 billion in housing in communities across the country. Nationwide, at least 1,053 schools were forced to close their doors, ending the school term early.
The flooding has inundated as much as six million hectares of land, over 300,000 of which is farmland, affecting 58 provinces across the country. The areas hit the hardest are in central Thailand near the mouth of the Chao Phraya River, but provinces in the north – such as Lampang and Chiang Mai – have also felt the effects. In the areas hit the hardest, there are estimates of as much as 3 meters (10 feet) of water.
As tens of thousands are forced to evacuate their communities and as numerous factories are forced to close their doors, many in the labor sector are left without work. Some speculate that a number of factories may never open their doors again, which could result in significant job loss across Thailand. With a large region of agricultural lands being flooded, farmers and those who work in rice mills and paddy warehouses are also out of work, fearing how they can care for themselves and their families. Thailand, the largest rice exporter on the international market, may see a rice shortage and/or a spike in the cost of rice.
The flooding is currently reaching a critical point in the country’s capital, Bangkok, with the domestic airport, Don Mueang, grounding all flights. The international airport remains open but there is an advisory against tourism to Bangkok. There are many civilian groups, organizations and armed forces working on the ground to distribute aid. A Flood Relief Operations Center (FROC) has been set up at Don Mueang Airport to coordinate the delivery of said aid. The stadium at Rangsit Campus of Thammasat University is serving as a shelter for evacuees, mostly from Ayutthaya, a province in central Thailand hit the hardest. Many migrants, stateless individuals and refugees are not getting the assistance they need while many others refuse to leave their homes for fear of looting.
China, Japan, the Phillipines, the U.S. and New Zealand have all pledged support and assistance to Thailand for relief operations. For any of our readers who would like to help in this critical and turbulent time, we recommend donations to Give2Asia (tax deductible in the U.S.) and to the Thai Red Cross Society. Any and all support is greatly appreciated.