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The lasting impacts of floods in Thailand

A man holds onto a raft as he makes his way through floodwaters near the Chao Praya river in Bangkok on October 30, 2011.

Jeremy Hobson: Almost eight months ago, when the earthquake and tsunami struck Japan, we saw the impact natural disasters can have on the global economy, when they happen where things are manufactured. Well now, the focus is on the manufacturing hub of Thailand.

Extremely high tides over the weekend brought Thailand's worst flooding in a half a century to its peak. And now officials are assessing the damage to Thailand and to its global output.

For more, let's bring in the BBC's Rachel Harvey who is with us from Bangkok. Good morning.

Rachel Harvey: Good morning.

Hobson: Well, Rachel -- is the worst over? And what do things look like out on the streets of Bangkok?

Harvey: The government's saying that for the center of Bangkok, the worst could be over. But it is only the center of Bangkok that has been spared. If you look at a satellite image, you see this white blob of Bangkok center surrounded by a sea of blue. So that runoff water that's moving down from the central provinces has now inundated areas in the northern suburbs, to the west of Bangkok, and areas around the main Chao Phraya river.

So there's no real sigh of relief here. It's more a case of, OK, the center's been spared the worst -- but there are still people that are going to need a lot of help for a long time to come.

Hobson: People and businesses. I know a lot of the factories are located outside of Bangkok. What's the impact on global business so far?

Harvey: Well, it's going to be -- I think -- medium to long-term, pretty profound. Although they haven't had a chance to really do a proper damage assessment, and they won't do until the floods recede.

But we're talking about at least seven industrial parks that are completely underwater. That means thousands of factories that have had to stop work. It means tens of thousands of workers that are -- temporarily at least -- laid off. So big concerns.

We're talking in many cases about electronics firms, and also industry. Honda and Toyota, for instance, have been heavily impacted by this -- and that of course follows on from the Japanese tsunami earlier this year. So if they've taken a big hit -- Sony, Western, Seagate -- there are predictions that perhaps hard drive prices might be pushed up by all of this. The supply chains and the factories combined, that causes big problems -- not just in Thailand, but also farther afield as well.

Hobson: The BBC's Rachel Harvey in Bangkok. Rachel, thanks so much.

Harvey: You're welcome.

About the author

Jeremy Hobson is host of Marketplace Morning Report, where he looks at business news from a global perspective to prepare listeners for the day ahead.

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