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Flood barriers to decide Bangkok's fate

Beside a wall of white sandbags that has become a front line in Thailand's battle to prevent an epic season of monsoon floods from reaching Bangkok, needlefish swim through knee-high water inside Sawat Taengon's home.

world Updated: Oct 16, 2011 00:36 IST

Beside a wall of white sandbags that has become a front line in Thailand's battle to prevent an epic season of monsoon floods from reaching Bangkok, needlefish swim through knee-high water inside Sawat Taengon's home.

On one side, a river pours through a canal diverting water around the city just to the south. On the other side, homes just like his are unscathed. Whether floodwaters breach fortified barriers like these this weekend will decide whether Bangkok will be swamped or spared.

As of late Saturday at least the alarmed metropolis of glass-walled condominiums and gilded Buddhist temples remained unscathed and authorities were confident it would narrowly escape disaster.

"We just hope it doesn t go higher," said Sawat, a 38-year-old construction worker whose home had the misfortune of being inside the vast sandbag wall which runs at least 2.5 miles along a canal in Rangsit just north of Bangkok's city limits.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's government says most of Bangkok is safe behind an elaborate system of flood walls, canals dikes and seven underground drainage tunnels, completed over the last year.