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UAE's travel warning as floods shut Thai airport.

Summary: The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday urged Emiratis to refrain from travelling to Thailand as floods submerged many areas of the Thai capital and shut down Bangkok's second airport

The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday urged Emiratis to refrain from travelling to Thailand as floods submerged many areas of the Thai capital and shut down Bangkok's second airport

The UAE move is part of the government's effort to ensure security and safety of its citizens abroad. The ministry called on Emiratis in Bangkok to take care and follow up the instructions of the Thai government on dealing with risks.

The UAE embassy in Bangkok works round-the-clock to follow up conditions of Emiratis in Thailand. They can contact the embassy on the following phone numbers: 006624024000, 0066800700060 and 0066871108785.

The Thai cabinet ordered holidays from October 27 to October 31 for Bangkok and 20 other provinces affected by the kingdom's worst flooding in decades, amid warnings a high tide would surge up the capital's main river and escalate the disaster. However, financial markets will remain open.

"The government has switched to a crisis mode as a massive run-off will arrive in the capital on October 26, coinciding with a high tide on October 28," the Flood Relief Operations Centre said in a statement.

In a televised address to the kingdom late on Tuesday, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra gave a stark prediction of the potential impact of the flooding, saying the water was "at full force, which is more than the barriers can hold".

She said it was "highly likely" that all of Bangkok, including the inner zone, would flood, with a "worst case scenario" seeing water levels of up to 1.5 metres in some parts.

As the waters that have already flooded several northern and eastern districts of Bangkok closed in, airport officials announced the two runways will shut until November 1.

"Because a lot of water is creeping into the northern premises of the airport, it could cause planes to skid on the runways," Airports of Thailand said.

About 100 domestic flights normally operate from the airport each day.

Yingluck, who is facing her first major crisis since coming to power in August, said before the cabinet meeting that the evacuees sheltering there would also have to relocate.

Bangkok governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra also made a televised address warning residents along the Chao Phraya river in the capital to be on "full alert" after the waterway reached record highs of 2.30 metres on Monday.

"If the situation continues in these circumstances, the water level this weekend will hit 2.60 metres, while our average flood embankment is 2.50 metres high," he said.

In the city centre, residents were lining up to buy bottled water directly from trucks resupplying shops, after days of panic-buying emptied supermarket shelves.

A defence official in Washington said the US navy had withdrawn several ships, including aircraft carriers, sent to help with relief efforts in Thailand after receiving "mixed" messages from the Bangkok government.

"There were two channels (in the Thai government)," the defence official said. "One was saying 'Yes' and one was saying 'No'."

But Thailand's Defence Minister General Yutthasak Sasiprapa indicated that authorities felt they were able to handle the situation themselves.

"We have not denied their assistance, but we have our own aircraft so we would rather use ours," he told reporters, adding, however, that he was unclear over the details of the US offer and needed to check with the air force chief.

A spokesman from the US embassy in Bangkok said one ship from the US group had docked in Thailand on October 20 and its helicopters had since been on missions coordinated with the Thai army and other US agencies.

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Publication:Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:9THAI
Date:Oct 25, 2011
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