Tensions were rising between Thai residents and authorities in flooded parts of Bangkok on Monday, with hundreds protesting that their homes were being sacrificed in attempts to keep the city centre dry.
Police said at least 200 people gathered to demand the wider opening of a sluice gate in the northeastern district of Khlong Sam Wa, but officials held firm and formed a human chain to keep back the villagers.
“The Flood Relief Operations Centre has asked the army to send personnel to areas where it has conflicts. The army has sent 200 military police to back up police forces,” said defence minister Yuthasak Sasiprapha.
Hopes are growing that central Bangkok will be spared from major inundation after barriers along Bangkok’s swollen Chao Phraya River prevented a major overflow during a spring high tide over the weekend.
But the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the situation remained “critical” in several flooded districts with water levels rising above one metre.
The OCHA statement said a group of residents destroyed a dyke in northern Don Mueang on Saturday, causing a huge volume of floodwater to flow into the Prapa canal which supplies tap water to Bangkok.
“My house has been flooded for two months now and in the last two weeks it’s got worse," Samorn Sohwiset, a local said. “I’ll stay here until they open the gate.”
Thailand’s Prime Minister said that she hopes the process of draining floodwater through Bangkok can be sped up now that peak high tides have passed.
Higher than normal tides pushing up the Chao Phraya River have complicated efforts to drain the floodwater that has been surging through the city.