Downpour triggers city chaos
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Downpour triggers city chaos

Traffic moves at a snail's pace on flooded Srinakarin Road in Bangkok on Wednesday morning. (Photo by Somchai Poomlard)
Traffic moves at a snail's pace on flooded Srinakarin Road in Bangkok on Wednesday morning. (Photo by Somchai Poomlard)

A morning downpour submerged several areas in Bangkok on Wednesday, triggering traffic chaos and trapping hundreds of office workers on flooded streets during rush hour.

The freak weather is expected to dump more rain on Bangkok and upper Thailand throughout Wednesday, to be followed by a "rapid drop in temperatures" on Thursday. The cold weather will continue until early next week, the Meteorological Department said in an urgent warning on Wednesday.

In Bangkok, torrential rain from 2am to 9am flooded sections of Pattanakan, Sukhumvit, Srinakarin, Lat Phrao, Ramkhamhaeng and Suwinthawong roads, surging up to 20 centimetres deep, causing a long tailback and restricting cars to a crawl.

Pedestrians also bore the brunt, with footpaths near Tawana Market on Lat Phrao Road completely blanketed by water.

Showers continued to soak Bangkok streets, pedestrians inching their way carefully through water toward shelters. Some taxi drivers rejected soaked passengers.

Soldiers from many military units were ordered to help police facilitate the traffic.

The heaviest rainfall recorded on Wednesday morning was 137.5 millimetres in Bangkok’s Nong Chok district, according to the City Hall flood prevention centre.

Bangkok deputy governor Chakrapan Pewngam explained the reason for the flooding. He said that with the end of the rainy season some pumps were down for necessary maintenance. In addition, the level of water in many canals was already high because City Hall recently began flushing out old polluted water with freshwater channeled from the river.

Heavy rain was reported in many parts of Thailand after a high pressure system brought cold weather over the Northeast and expected to reduce temperatures in this region by 6-8°C, the Meteorological Department chief Wanchai Sakudomchai said.

In Kalasin, the temperature had already dropped to 16°C, with villagers  lighting bonfires to keep themselves and their animals warm.

Mr Wanchai expected the temperatures in Bangkok and nearby provinces to drop by 4-6°C on Thursday.

The cold spell will continue until Jan 15, he said.

The northeastern monsoon in the South is expected to strengthen, causing widespread rain in the region.

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