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Thailand wades through worst flooding in decades

Thailand's floodwaters have already killed 269 people and submerged some 3.4 million acres of farmland to the north. And Bangkok's estimated 12 million residents are bracing for another storm.

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Flood sufferers disembark from boats at a bridge after being rescued by Thai authorities in Ayutthaya province, central Thailand, Tuesday. Thailand is counting the multibillion dollar cost of nationwide flooding that has killed 269 people and may yet cause more havoc as waters threaten to engulf the country's capital.

Apichart Weerawong/AP

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Shoveling sand into canvas bags, Thawatchai Siithundoin wipes the sweat from his brow and looks up at the darkening late afternoon sky.

“If it rains again, that canal will fill my house,” he says, pointing to the water lapping the roadside about four yards behind him in the northern Bangkok suburb of Rangsit.

Before possible rains hit tonight, he plans to install a 3-foot-high barrier around his canal-side house, which sits below ground-level.

Mr. Siithundoin is just one of Bangkok's estimated 12 million residents bracing for floods that have already killed 269 people and submerged some 3.4 million acres of farmland to the north. And not far from his house, authorities in the low-lying Thai capital are also frantically trying to put up flood-walls to stem the rising water, which threatens to inundate the city throughout the coming days.

Thailand's National Flood Relief Center Chief Pracha Promnok said on Tuesday that rainfall levels during the coming days could be critical in determining whether Bangkok floods striking a potential blow to Thailand's already suffering economy.

With factories closed and tourists warned to steer clear, Supavud Saicheua, an analyst at the Phatra Securites investment firm estimates that in the past few days the country could have lost between 0.4 and 0.7 percent of GDP.

“Bangkok is 40 percent of the country's economy," Mr. Saicheua says, adding, “but nonetheless the focus first has to be on public safety and ensuring no more lives are lost.”

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