Bangkok’s Grand Palace ankle-deep in floodwater as Thailand fears defences could be swamped
Kings once lived in it’s lavish buildings, but today Bangkok’s treasured Grand Palace is a waterworld with ankle-deep flooding and guarded by soldiers standing on sandbags.
The army has been pumping out water so tourists can still enter the white-walled compound following heavy rains across the country which have killed almost 400 people and forced 110,000 to leave their homes.
Flooding from the Chao Phraya river has filled roads outside the palace gates for days, and as it coursed through Thailand’s capital briefly flooding riverside buildings there were fears flood defenses could break and water swamp the heart of the city.
High tide: A Thai Buddhist monk wades through floodwaters outside the Grand Palace in Bangkok
Tens of thousands of people have been ordered to evacuate the capital following Thailand’s worst flooding in 50 years. Seven of Bangkok’s 50 districts – all in the northern outskirts – are heavily flooded, and residents have fled aboard bamboo rafts, army trucks and by wading in waist-deep water.
Water guard: A Thai soldier stands watch on a sandbag barrier at the flooded gate of the Grand Palace which tourists are still visiting
Provinces north of the capital have been submerged, with factories and homes ruined.
Most of Bangkok, however, has remained dry and most of its more than nine million residents were staying put to protect their homes. But thousands have sough refuge outside the capital
The U.S. State Department warned against all but essential travel to areas of Thailand affected by the flooding, including Bangkok, because of transportation difficulties and shortages of certain food items.
An emotional Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra acknowledged her government could not control the approaching deluge.
She said: ‘What we’re doing today is resisting the force of nature,’ adding that the water bearing down on Bangkok was so massive that ‘we cannot resist all of it.’
For weeks, the water has crept down from the central plains, flowing south toward the Gulf of Thailand. Bangkok is in the way, and today it is literally surrounded by huge pools of water flowing around and through it via a complex network of canals and rivers.
Flooding has closed Bangkok’s Don Muang airport, mainly used for domestic flights, but Thailand’s main international airport is operating as usual.
After visiting the Grand Palace, American tourist Kathy Kiernan said she wasn’t too concerned about flooding in the capital.
Thailand’s Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra greets people as she visits a flooded area in Nonthaburi province on the outskirts of Bangkok
Sitting it out: A couple can only wait for the waters to recede at a flooded market in Bangkok
Water hazard: A man carries a child through a flooded street at Bang Phlat district in Bangkok as a Thai monk wades through the water in a downtown street
Water babe: A woman pushes a tot in a plastic container as they wade through floods in Rangsit district on the outskirts of Bangkok
‘We were a little worried when we got in to see sandbags around our hotel,’ said the 47-year-old from Utah’s Salt Lake City. ‘But so far it’s pretty normal. Everything looks fine, though we know anything can happen.’
The government’s Flood Relief Operations Centre says its contingency plan involves the Thai military and government agencies transporting people from evacuation points in the capital to outlying provinces.
Within the city, 234 shelters have been set up to house nearly 78,000 homeless flood victims. Authorities say there are currently about 7,500 displaced people in the sprawling metropolis.
Bangkok governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra told residents of Don Muang and Bang Phlat districts, which are already partly submerged, to leave for their own safety.
No school today: A girl has a drink as she a cyclist passes her by in a flooded street outside the Grand Palace
Water traveller: A Thai uses a broom to paddle a big plastic container along one of Bangkok’s flooded streets
Evacuation: A man carries his pet dog to safety as a family pull a plastic boat along the floodwaters near Chao Phraya River in Bangkok
He said: ‘This is the first time I am using the term ‘evacuation’, the first time I’m really asking you to leave.’
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has advised British holidaymakers to avoid all but essential travel to the Thai capital.
A spokesman from ABTA, The Travel Association, reiterated that transit flights through Suvarnabhumi international airport are not affected, nor are flights to Thailand’s coastal resorts.
He added: ‘Customers due to travel within the next few days should liaise with their airline or travel provider for the latest information.’
Under water: The Chinatown district of Bangkok. The flooding has sparked an exodus from the capital as waters creep closer to the city centre
No fares so feet up: A submerged taxi is left stranded by the deluge
HOME TO THE KINGS OF THAILAND SINCE THE 18TH CENTURY
Built in 1782, during the reign of King Rama I the Grand Palace was the royal court of the Thai kings for 150 years.
Now it is the administrative seat of government and the country’s main tourist attraction.
Within its white walls and 218,400 square metres grounds are the Thai war ministry, state departments, and even the mint.
Royal home: The Grand Palace in Bangkok where the Thai kings once lived
The complex includes the Temple of the Emerald Buddha which contains the small, very famous and greatly revered Emerald Buddha that dates back to the 14th century.
The robes on the Buddha are changed with the seasons and form an important ritual in the Buddhist calendar.
Thai Kings stopped living in the palace around the turn of the twentieth century, but the palace complex is still used to mark all kinds of ceremonials and events.
Posted by: euzoia | October 28, 2011
Posted in Uncategorized