Thailand's Worst Floods in Half a Century
The flooding in Thailand since late July has become the worst flooding the country has experienced in 50 years. Almost 8.2 million people and 2.4 million households in 60 provinces, 591 districts and 4,259 tambons have been affected by floods, mainly in the centre, north and northeast of the country, especially in Ayutthaya, Lop Buri, Chai Nat and Nakhon Sawan, which were seriously hit. The latest report on 16 October 2011 has shown that about 297 people have been killed and two people are still missing in flood-related incidents. The wide-spread heavy monsoon rains and floods have destroyed more than two million acres of farmland in 58 provinces, from Chiang Mai to Ayutthaya.
Thailand's Labour Ministry reported that 1,215 factories in 33 provinces were underwater, affecting about 41,099 workers. Almost half of these workers were in Ayutthaya. In Ayutthaya alone, 349 factories have been affected, impacting 20,000 workers. Several huge industrial estates in Ayutthaya, such as the Saha Rattana Nakorn Industrial Estate (46 factories), Bang Pa-In Industrial Estate (98 factories), Ban Wa (Hi-Tech) Industrial Estate (143 factories), Rojana Industrial Park (198 factories), The Factory Land Industrial Estate (93 factories) and Navanakorn Industrial Estate (227 factories) have been inundated, adding to the damage to the economy.
In Thailand's worst floods in half a century, the damage not only affected those within the country, but has also spread worldwide, especially in the automotive industry. Several car makers, such as Honda, Toyota, Ford and Isuzu Motors, have been forced to shut down production plants due to the floods. Toyota has closed three facilities of its own that are responsible for producing over 500,000 vehicles annually. Honda was the hardest hit company initially, as the company closed a plant that produces about 240,000 vehicles annually. Now, the export supply chain is now threatened by the heavy flooding.
The economic cost is estimated to be least US $ 4 billion. The Center for Economic and Business Forecasting, the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, projected GDP growth this year will be 1.2% lower because of the floods. In the meantime, Thai government agencies predict that the natural disaster could temper economic growth expectations by a full percentage point. The National Economic and Social Development Board had forecasted a 3.5 to 4% growth for 2011.
On behalf of Thai Trade and Industry Media Co., Ltd., I would like to express my sincere sadness and sympathies to those who have been affected by these devastating floods, and hope we all can recover from this disaster soon.