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Flood of the century





Thousands of Bangkok residents flocked to bus, rail and air terminals Thursday while heavy traffic snaked out of the sprawling Thai capital in an exodus from a mass of approaching floodwater.

Water was seeping into central areas of the city of 12 million people, entering the grounds of the Grand Palace after the main Chao Phraya river overflowed at high tide, but most of downtown Bangkok was still dry.

A huge runoff from the north equivalent to almost half a million Olympic swimming pools is expected to reach the capital at the same time as seasonal high tides this weekend, testing the city's flood defences.

Many residents hunkered down in their homes, surrounded by sandbags or in some cases hastily erected concrete block walls, after the government ordered a five-day holiday for 21 provinces including Bangkok from Thursday.

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