Category: News @ Ayutthaya.

Beauty hides human toll: Postcard pictures from Thailand as country tallies cost of record floods

By Wil Longbottom

A reclining stone Buddha smiles serenely as a boat drifts past with smiling occupants paddling happily in the Thailand sunshine.

In a second image, a golden statue wearing a traditional robe stands partially submerged in the grounds of an ancient temple.

And in the final image, a child appears unconcerned as he swims near another Buddha statue in a world heritage historical park in Ayutthaya province.

Serene: A Thai family paddles past a stone reclining Buddha at a flooded world heritage park in Ayutthaya province, Thailand

Taking a dip: This Buddha statue, in traditional robe, is half submerged by flood water at an ancient temple

Cooling off: A boy swims near another flooded statue in the park as Thailand counts the cost of months of flooding

These pictures could almost be holiday snaps taken by enthusiastic backpackers spending a few months travelling through Thailand.

But the picturesque photographs belie the fact the popular tourist destination is reeling from the human and financial toll of nationwide flooding.

Thailand is counting the cost of flooding that has killed nearly 270 people and is threatening to engulf the country’s capital.

Bank of Thailand Governor Prasarn Trairatvorakul said preliminary estimates put economic losses from the flooding, which began in late July, at between $1.9billion and $2.6billion.

That figure does not include damages to assets or reconstruction costs and is expected to rise as the flood waters surge towards Bangkok.

Stranded: Two dogs take refuge on a wall, surrounded by icons, at the UNESCO site

Wading through: Buddhist monks make their way through the park in Ayutthaya province. Nearly 270 people have been killed in flooding in Thailand in the last three months

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Bangkok officials today pleaded with the city’s residents not to panic as workers raced to complete three critical flood walls with just days to go before already swollen rivers burst their banks.

Supermarket shelves have been cleared by shoppers of basic items including rice, bottled water, pork and chicken.

Flood damage to agricultural land in the country’s north is expected to push up food prices, particularly with rice.

The disaster is a further blow to Thailand’s electronics and auto industries, which have only just recovered from the production disruptions caused by the March 11 tsunami in Japan that knocked out critical component suppliers.

THAILAND-FLOODS/ - Map locating regions worst hit by serious flooding which has killed nearly 270 people in Thailand. RNGS. (SIN03)

The flooding is the worst to hit the Asian nation in decades. Around 8.2million people in 60 of Thailand’s 77 provinces have been affected by floods and mudslides, and 30 provinces are currently inundated.

Prolonged monsoon flooding, typhoons and storms have killed hundreds of people across Southeast Asia, China, Japan and South Asia in the last four months.

Moody’s analytics economist Fred Gibson said losses from flooding could swell if it spreads to the eastern seaboard province of Rayong, where two thirds of Thai industry is located.

Honda Motor Co said its Thai vehicle production has been suspended after two industrial estates in the historic capital of Ayutthaya, north of Bangkok, were inundated.

Officials at the Agriculture Ministry said 2.9million acres of rice fields may be damaged.

Thailand, the world’s biggest rice exporter, has around 27million acres planted with staple grain.

Another 700,000 acres of land planted with other crops is also likely to have suffered damage, the ministry said.

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Category: News @ Ayutthaya