From: Reuters, BANGKOK
Published October 9, 2011 07:13 AM

Deadly Thai floods close factories, threaten Bangkok

Nearly 200 factories, including one run by Japanese car maker Honda Motor Co Ltd, closed in the central Thai province of Ayutthaya because of flooding, which could threaten Bangkok this week, officials said on Sunday.



About 261 people have died since late July in flood-related incidents, the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation said. Some 2.3 million people have been affected in the worst flooding to hit parts of Thailand in 50 years, mainly in the center, north and northeast.

The Rojana estate in Ayutthaya province, run by Rojana Industrial Park Pcl, was flooded after a wall of sandbags failed to hold back water overnight.

"All 198 factories at Rojana have to be closed because the water is about 5.1 meters high," Industry Minister Wannarat Channukul told Reuters.

A Honda spokeswoman said it had moved about 3,000 assembled cars from the estate to other areas. Hana Microelectronics Pcl has also had to close its plant in Ayutthaya.

On Thursday the Center for Economic and Business Forecasting, part of the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, cut its forecast for gross domestic product (GDP) growth this year to 3.6 percent from 4.4 percent because of the floods.

It put the impact of the flooding at between 1.0 and 1.3 percentage points of GDP and said its new growth forecast would have been lower but for recent strength in exports.
The commerce ministry said on Friday it had slashed its forecast for the main rice crop, which farmers are just starting to bring in, to 21 million tones from 25 million because of the flooding.

Thailand is the world's biggest rice exporter. The crop damage will add to the pressure on export prices, already being forced up by the high buying price set under a government intervention scheme aimed at helping poor farmers.

Photo shows residents carrying their belongings wade through a flooded street in Ayutthaya province, north of Bangkok, October 6, 2011.

REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom

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