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Thai Floods Force Closure of 17 Factories in Industrial Zone

Seventeen factories were temporarily shut on Monday in a major Thai industrial zone dominated by foreign companies, after flood waters blocked nearby roads, a senior official said.

By Amy Sawitta Lefevre

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Seventeen factories were temporarily shut on Monday in a major Thai industrial zone dominated by foreign companies, after flood waters blocked nearby roads, a senior official said.

But the official did not identify the stricken plants at the Amata Nakorn Industrial Estate, a sprawling manufacturing zone home to more than 500 factories, located 114 km (71 miles) east of the capital, Bangkok.

The 17 factories were shut after the workers proved unable to reach them and the navy has been asked to help pump out the water, Wibun Krommadit, Amata's chief marketing officer, said in a statement.

"There is flood water outside the premises and on some surrounding roads, blocking entry for workers who are unable to easily get to work," Wibun said.

Nearly half the factories in the industrial estate are operated by Japanese firms.

Floods have spread across more than half of Thailand's provinces this year, but the government has ruled out any repeat of the devastating floods of late 2011.

Those floods were the worst in half a century and caused massive disruption to industry and global supply chains, slashing economic growth to just 0.1 percent in 2011.

Some facilities at Amata Nakorn, spread over 3,020 hectares (7,450 acres), produce parts for major Japanese automakers. Besides auto parts, Thailand is the world's largest producer of hard-disk drives and a key maker of electronic components.

The estate was using more than 100 water pumps to speed drainage and the situation had improved from the weekend, with levels in many areas dropping by 15 to 20 cm (6 inches), Wibun added.

Flood waters have receded in much of Thailand over the past week but some remain trapped in parts of the eastern industrial belt. Authorities were confident the situation was under control.

"If there's no more heavy rain, we expect the flooding situation to ease considerably within the next two days," said Khomsan Ekachai, governor of Chonburi province, where the Amata Nakorn estate is located.

Floods this year have hit 47 of Thailand's 77 provinces, killing 76 people, disaster prevention officials say.

More than 3 million people have been affected by flooding since July.

(Additional reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat; Editing by Martin Petty and Clarence Fernandez)

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