(Reuters) - Floods in Thailand engulfed another industrial estate on Sunday but the capital, Bangkok, appears for now to have escaped the devastation seen elsewhere in the country.
Flooding has killed 297 people since late July and caused $3 billion in damage. A third of the country is under water but officials are confident low-lying Bangkok will be spared after the strengthening of its system of defensive dikes and canals.
Ayutthaya, Pathum Thani and Nakhon Sawan provinces north of Bangkok have been devastated. Floods have swallowed up homes and forced a series of huge industrial parks to close, including the Bang Pa-In estate in Ayutthaya on Saturday.
Another estate, Factory Land in Ayutthaya, which has 93 factories employing 8,500 employees, flooded in the early hours of Sunday.
Most of the factories make electronic components and car parts, so this will add to the problems of the international firms that use Thailand as a regional production hub.
“The water broke in at around midnight. Operators there were aware of it and evacuated people from the estate … Up to now, five industrial estates have been flooded,” said Prayoon Tingthong, in charge of industrial affairs for the province.
Japanese car maker Honda Motor Co Ltd has shut its Ayutthaya plant, which accounts for 4.7 percent of its global output, and said on Friday it would stay closed until Oct. 21.
Thailand is Southeast Asia largest car manufacturer.
The authorities are worried about another industrial park, Nava Nakorn in Pathum Thani province north of Bangkok, which is standing in the way of the flow of water towards the capital.
Thai media said soldiers and workers from the estate, Thailand’s oldest with more than 200 factories, were working around the clock to strengthen its walls and divert water.
The economy is bound to suffer from the flooding.
Both the central bank and government have put the cost at about 100 billion baht ($3.2 billion) already, more than 1 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).
The Finance Ministry has cut its GDP growth forecast for this year to 3.7 percent from 4.0 percent. Thai Deputy Prime Minister Kittirat Na-Ranong cautioned that the ongoing flood crisis could reduce Thailand’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth by at least further 0.6-0.9 per cent due to expanding damage to the country’s farm and industrial sectors, Thai News Agency (TNA) reported.
The figure is expected to project Thailand as ASEAN 2nd weakest economy (GDP growth) this year after Brunei.
The central bank said on Friday that 104 bank branches had closed because of flooding, mainly in the central region. Deputy Prime Minister Kittirat Na Ranong has called bankers to a meeting at the Don Muang crisis centre on Monday.