Officials in Thailand See Signs of Flood Threat Easing

Buddhist monks paddle a boat through floodwaters in front of a reclining Buddha at the Wat Satue in Ayutthaya province north of Bangkok, Thailand, Monday, Oct. 4, 2021. Photo: Nathathida Adireksarn / AP

BANGKOK (AP) — Widespread flooding in Thailand was easing, allowing the capital Bangkok to avoid serious damage, officials said Monday.

Eight people had died and one woman was missing when floods fed by a storm a week ago inundated hundreds of thousands of households in 32 of the country’s 77 provinces.

The Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation said floodwaters in 14 provinces, mostly in the north and northeast, were receding while the central region, including Ayutthaya, the historical old capital about 65 kilometers (40 miles) north of Bangkok, was still facing increasing water levels.

Photos from the city showed monks paddling boats in floodwaters around a giant reclining Buddha statue.

Seasonal rains account for much of the localized flooding, but water that flows from the north down the Chao Phraya River exacerbates the problem. Dams and reservoirs along the river store as much water as possible to help with irrigation during droughts, but then are unable to stem the flow of water from upstream during rainy season.

Some dams and reservoirs in the central region reached their capacities last month and were forced in recent days to increase the amount of water they release, contributing to flooding farther downstream.

“The water that we released in the past four to five days has already reached Bangkok,” said Prapit Chanma, director general of the Royal Irrigation Department.

He said if there is no more rainfall, “we can expect the flood situation will ease.” There are forecasts, however, a new storm could hit Thailand later this week.

Story: Chalida Ekvitthayavechnukul