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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Electrocution warning amid Thai flooding

Via The Sydney Morning Herald :

" Thai authorities have warned flood victims of an increased danger of electrocution in densely populated Bangkok and its suburbs as the toll from the worst inundation in decades surged above 400.

While the centre of the Thai capital remains dry, residential areas in its outskirts and to the north have been submerged in water up to people's waists or even deeper as run-off creeps south from the central plains.

The government said on Wednesday the disaster had now killed 427 people - up by 42 from the figure reported a day earlier. While drowning was the most common cause of death, dozens have also been electrocuted.

"In the past 10 days deaths from electrocution rose from just nine to 36 and about 80 per cent of those were in the provinces surrounding Bangkok," a senior public health ministry official, Porntep Siriwanarangsun, told AFP on Wednesday.

"I'm sure many cases are not reported. If this issue is not addressed it will be a major cause of death."

Most instances of fatal electrocution occurred when people returned to their flooded one-storey homes, unaware of the risk.

"In many cases victims died because of senseless action," Porntep said.

So far none of the deaths in the official toll was in Bangkok, where the risk of drowning is considered relatively low because the water is fairly shallow in most areas and the current is not strong.

A bigger worry is children swimming in contaminated water, Porntep said, adding that the authorities would need to clean up garbage soon after the floods recede to prevent leptospirosis, a severe bacterial infection."

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