Thai officials reinforce barriers to stop worst floods, threatening Bangkok

Thai officials hastened to reinforce barriers and widen canals in Bangkok to stop country’s worst floods—in more than half a century, which may spread to the capital within the week.

The flood swept across the country starting in late July, killing 269 people, swamping factories operated by Nikon Corp., Honda Motor Co. and Canon Inc., while damaging more than 10 percent of rice farms in the biggest exporter of the grain.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra opened army camps to assist house some of the 2.4 million people displaced by the floods, asking authorities to accelerate efforts to protect the capital. The finance ministry yesterday cut its forecast for economic growth to 3.7 percent from 4 percent and said the disaster may cause 120 billion baht ($3.9 billion) of damage.

“It’s difficult to estimate the water volume, but if we can protect the flood barriers in three key points in the next one to two days, Bangkok should be saved,” Yingluck said yesterday at Bangkok’s former international airport, which has been turned into the country’s main flood-management center.

Bank of Thailand Governor Prasarn Trairatvorakul warned that the situation is “quite worrisome,” further adding that agricultural industry losses may total as much as 20 billion baht.

The disaster may reduce Thailand’s gross domestic product by 1 percentage point in the fourth quarter, increasing the likelihood that the central bank may cut interest rates by as much as 50 basis points by year-end to aid reconstruction efforts, HSBC Holdings Plc economist Frederic Neumann wrote yesterday in a report to clients.

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