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Floods Threaten Thai Innovation Hub

A campus housing several national research institutes and private companies braces for rising waters in the Southeast Asian country.

Oct 17, 2011
Bob Grant

A flooded home in Lopburi province, to the north of the science parkFLICKR, PHUMPHAT CHETIYANONTH EU/ECHO

As Thailand suffers the worst flooding it's seen in 50 years, researchers, managers, and other employees have evacuated a science park about 30 miles north of Bangkok in the southern part of the country. Though the raging waters began to recede Sunday, the floods have killed nearly 300 people and caused billions of dollars worth of damage to roads, rail lines, homes, and businesses since torrential monsoon rains soaked Thailand starting in late July.

Administrators at the Thailand Science Park (TSP)—which houses four national research institutes, laboratories affiliated with dozens of private research companies, and thousands of workers—decided last week to shut down the campus and evacuate all employees except for essential personnel who were hastily building sandbag floodwalls to protect infrastructure.

On Sunday (October 16), a message posted on the science park's Facebook page announced that the campus would be closed through Wednesday (October 18). The Facebook post also, but reported that the TSP grounds were "still under control," but noted that waters in surrounding areas were continuing to rise.

Narong Sirilertworakul, executive vice president of Thailand's National Science and Technology Development Agency—which oversees four national research institutes at the park—told ScienceInsider on Friday (14 October) that he was "very busy trying to fight the flood."

Also on Sunday, Thai officials announced that the central business district of the capital Bangkok would likely escape the worst of the flooding, but reports indicate that areas in the outer north and east of the city were severely flooded.

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