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Bangkok is sinking, and may be underwater in 15 years

EPA/Narong Sangnak
He’s going to need a bigger boat.
By Svati Kirsten Narula
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

A study commissioned by the Thai government has found that Bangkok, the country’s capital and most populous city, is seriously endangered by rising sea levels—not just because the city is in a low-lying and flood-prone region, but because of how it is being developed.

The proliferation of tall buildings and electric railways has weighed down the city, according to the Bangkok Post. In addition, the region relies heavily on underground water pumped from aquifers, and when too much water is drawn out too quickly, the land above it tends to sink.

Bangkok routinely suffers from severe flooding during heavy rains. Floods in 2011 were particularly damaging, and prompted predictions that entire swaths of the city would be underwater before 2030. Risk assessment experts warned in 2008 that Bangkok is sinking at a rate of 10 cm (4 inches) per year.

Ongoing efforts to fortify the city with flood walls have been slowed by political squabbles and red tape. A member of the commission studying the issue said that an urgently-needed seawall would cost at least 500 billion baht ($14.4 billion).

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