Asia-Pacific

Thailand PM Yingluck hopeful as inner Bangkok stays dry

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Media captionThe BBC's Rachel Harvey looks at how aid is being distributed in flooded communities near Bangkok

Thailand's prime minister has expressed optimism that central Bangkok will be mostly spared from the city's flooding, as defences held despite high tides.

Yingluck Shinawatra told residents in the capital that the country would "recover soon".

Floods have inundated over than a third of the country's provinces since July, killing more than 370 people.

Correspondents say Ms Yingluck, who came to power in June, has appeared at times overwhelmed by the crisis.

Whole towns have been submerged, with some two million people affected across the country since the flooding began, following heavy monsoon rains.

Factory closures

Officials have been trying to protect the commercial centre of Bangkok after flooding spread to northern districts of the city earlier this month.

City residents were urged to evacuate after the authorities warned them that Bangkok's Chao Phraya River could burst its banks over the weekend due to high tides, which are expected to last until Monday.

Prime Minister Yingluck said she hoped the sandbags protecting the city would hold up.

"It depends on the level of the sea and sometimes it's about the stability of the way we put the sandbags," Ms Yingluck told reporters.

"Hopefully, the sandbags are quite strong enough. So if the sandbags don't fall over, it should be OK."

On Friday, the Bank of Thailand slashed its growth forecast for the current financial year to 2.6%, down from an initial projection of 4.1% growth.

Bangkok contributes almost 41% to the country's GDP, and analysts have warned that any substantial damage to the capital could hit Thailand's growth further.

A number of factories in Thailand - one of the world's leading manufacturing bases - have shut down production, and it is not known when they will become operational again.

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