THAILAND - While industrial estates and households along waterways are bracing for heavy water runoff, the authorities have soothed public fears, saying the situation will not be as bad as in 2011.
"The situation, so far, is not as worrying as in 2011. It's only that the media is reporting about it so intensely that the public has started panicking," Deputy PM Plodprasop Suraswadi said yesterday, adding that this year, the level of floodwater was only half of that in 2011.
Major dams are still well below their capacity, Plodprasop said, adding that rain was mostly falling in areas to the south of the dams. He added that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, in her capacity as defence minister, had instructed military units across the country to help flood-affected residents in their vicinity.
Plodprasop, who oversees flood and water-management operations, said that though the flooding has not resulted in any casualties, it has brought the situation to a "semi-crisis" level. All relevant agencies have been instructed to set up coordination centres in order to implement measures and handle emergencies - which will be overseen by a centre set up at Government House.
Districts in about 20 provinces have been inundated, with several roads left impassable and train services suspended.
In 2011, with more than 10 industrial estates inundated and millions of households affected, insurance companies estimated losses at a catastrophic US$12 billion (S$15 billion).
"The Thai 2011 flood crisis was the largest freshwater flood in global history," said Gabor Jaimes, chief of property product management for Asia-Pacific at international insurance firm Swiss Re.
In order to prevent another catastrophe, industrial estates in Ayutthaya and Saraburi have stepped up prevention measures, though this time the operators are not too worried.
Amara Charoengitwatta-nagun, a director of Rojana Industrial Park, said she was confident the industrial park would be safe this year, thanks to its 77-kilometre-long, 5-metre-tall floodwall.