BANGKOK?? Thailand's record floods encroached deeper into the capital Friday, swamping a major intersection in the northern edge of the city center and threatening the subway system.
The water from the country's worst flooding in more than half a century was filling Bangkok's Lad Phrao intersection, where three major roads meet. Office towers, condominiums and a popular shopping mall are in the area, where local media say the water is 15 inches deep.
The intersection is just down the street from the famed Chatuchak Weekend Market, a key tourist attraction.
Three stations in Bangkok's subway system are being closely monitored but are still open. Steel barriers have been put around the underground stations in recent weeks to protect against possible inundation.
The flooding, which started in the country's north in late July and has killed almost 450 people nationwide, has been spreading across Bangkok's north and west for more than a week.
The water has yet to reach the city's central business district, but the government has asked residents in eight of the city's 50 districts to evacuate. Residents in several other districts have been warned that they should be ready to leave.
Many streets have become floating landfills. Plastic bags overflowing with waste and rotten food cling to boats, cars, motorbikes and people as they slowly snake through inundated roadways. Raw sewage and animal carcasses can be seen bobbing in waters ripe for disease.
No major outbreaks have been reported since monster monsoon rains spawned floods that began swallowing areas north of the capital in late July. But experts warn the biggest health threats will likely emerge in the coming weeks after moving floodwaters subside, leaving stale pools.
"There's a lot of danger around it," says Mark Thomas, a spokesman for UNICEF, which is assisting with sanitation issues. "You need to keep kids out of the water, and everybody should stay out of the water as much as possible."
Mosquito-borne diseases, such as dengue fever, are a concern as well as eye infections and waterborne ailments that can lead to diarrhea and severe dehydration.
Skin diseases and fungal infections are the flood's biggest plague so far, with nearly 100,000 cases of athlete's foot reported. Bouts of diarrhea and respiratory infections are also common, especially with many flood victims sheltering in hot, cramped sites that may not have electricity or clean water.
Some 110,000 people have been displaced nationwide and more than 400 killed, mostly from drowning, since the waters started inundating millions of farm acres before seeping into Bangkok on their way to the sea.
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