Floods damage ancient Thai capital

Experts fear that at least half of the more than 200 waterlogged monasteries, fortresses and other monuments in the one-time royal capital have been damaged.

“Imagine a thousand tons of brick and stone resting on soft foundations, with no modern-style pilings. We are very worried,” said Chaiyanand Busayarat, director of the Ayutthaya Historic Park.

And as flood waters recede, some experts are proposing a radical change to prevent similar disasters in the future: Turn back the clock about four centuries to emulate the city’s urban planners and engineers of that time.

“We can’t prevent flooding so we have to learn to live with water again, like those who created Ayutthaya,” said Anek Sihamat of the Thai government’s Fine Arts Department.
He recommended digging up old canals that have been paved over for roads and curbing the urban sprawl and industrial parks that block the natural runoff of water.

Capital of a powerful state for 417 years, seat of 33 kings, Ayutthaya has been described as one of the greatest cities on water ever, with a canal network that measured more than 140 kilometres.

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