Map of the Day: The Biggest Natural Disaster in the World Today

Probably one of the biggest global stories that is getting the least amount of press here in the United States are the massive floods in South-east Asia, particularly Thailand.  As I write, Thai authorities and citizens are bracing for a potentially cataclysmic event in which Bangkok — a city of nearly 5 million people —  is sunk underwater.

Monsoon rains caused flooding in Thailand northern highlands and for the past month.  Those waters are creeping slowly towards Bangkok.  This map from OCHA gives you a sense of the geography of the region.

You’ll notice that downtown Bangkok, so far, has been spared.  Last week, authorities literally opened the flood gates to use canals to divert flood-waters through suburbs and toward the sea. This was a risky strategy: those canals could easily overflow. It has also naturally angered residence of those suburbs. Meanwhile, there will likely be a high tide toward the end of the week, which could push water back through those canals in the wrong direction, breach levies, and cause immense destruction of heavily populated parts of Bangkok.

That’s the nightmare scenario.

Already, the economic toll been immense. Huge companies like Western Digital, Apple and Toyota depend on factories in northern Bangkok that are currently deep under water.  The country is even considering lowering its interest rates to prevent a flood-induced recession. In the meantime, the rains and flooding throughout the region have destroyed millions of acres of farmland. The UN is warning of “serious concerns about food shortages.”

As I said. This is a huge, huge disaster.