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Some Bangkok areas may stay flooded until after New Year – Thai premier

November 15, 2011, 18:40 UTC+3

Experts predict that main roads in Bangkok will dry up within two weeks

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BANGKOK, November 15 (Itar-Tass) —— Some Bangkok areas may stay flooded until after the New Year, Thai Prime Minister Yinglak Chinnawat said on Tuesday.

The floodwater is retreating in the north and, partially, in the east of the city. However, western neighborhoods are covered with water and water pumping is a hard task. The situation in Bangkok is no longer critical. There is drinking water and food at local stores again, streets are crowded and traffic jams are back.

Experts predict that main roads in Bangkok will dry up within two weeks.

In all, the catastrophic flood in Thailand has killed 562 people and two more are missing. Twenty-two out of 76 provinces remain flooded. More than eleven million people in Thailand have suffered from the floodwater, and about one million asked for medical aid. Nearly 250,000 people became homeless.

The flood damage is estimated at up to $16 billion. A series of tropical storms and pouring rains triggered the disaster in the end of July.

Once a popular tourist destination, Thailand is losing its appeal to Russian visitors.

“Despite the comforting report of the Russian Foreign Ministry that the flood has spared popular resorts, tour operators report a decline in the number of tourists going to Thailand,” the Association of Tour Operators said.

The tour industry said that the interest of Russian tourists in vacations in Thailand grew in recent years. Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket, Samui and Krabi were the most popular tourist destinations.

The Federal Tourism Agency said that 233,113 Russians visited Thailand last year, which was nearly 30,000 tourists more than in 2009.

In all, more than 6 million Russian tourists spend vacations abroad in the first half of this year, the Association said with the reference to data from the Federal State Statistic Service.

The total number of Russians who made foreign trips in that period exceeded 18 million, which was 15% more than in January-June 2010, the Association said.

About 70% of all trips were made to countries outside the former Soviet Union territory, and the rest were made to CIS member states. Over 50% of all trips were made with personal invitations, and slightly more than 30% of all travelers were tourists.

According to the Association, the most popular destinations in the first half of 2011 were Turkey (visited by more than one million Russians) and China (over 600,000 tourists). Egypt ranked third with about 500,000 Russian tourists.

The altered situation in Egypt influenced preferences of Russian tourists, the Association said. “Due to the travel alert for Egypt, many tourism destinations showed unprecedented dynamics. For instance, the number of tourists visiting Cuba doubled to 46,000, while the number of tourists that preferred vacations in the Dominican Republic grew by almost 60% to 52,000,” the Association said.

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