Thai authorities on Oct. 26 urged residents in flood-prone wards in Bangkok to promptly evacuate and warned of an upcoming massive deluge in the capital city.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said floodwater has reached the inner zone of Bangkok and the city’s flood barriers might not be able to hold back a mass of run-off water from the north. She also warned that Bangkok could be flooded for four more weeks.

The Government ordered 21 provinces and cities, including Bangkok , to allow people to evacuate and respond to flooding.

A huge runoff from the north equivalent to 480,000 Olympic swimming pools is expected to reach the capital at the same time as seasonal high tides, the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.

The government earlier ordered a five-day holiday from October 27-31 for 21 provinces, including Bangkok . Schools and government offices will be closed and the government has urged public and private companies to allow their staff the time off, but the central bank said financial markets will not shut down and banks will stay open.

The Thai Retailers’ Association said the first batch of essential goods imported from Vietnam , Malaysia and other neighbouring countries is expected to arrive in Bangkok this weekend, meeting the increasing demand in the country.

The move is implemented as people in Bangkok and surrounding flooded provinces rush to buy essential goods due to the fear of a prolonged deluge.

Many shops in Bangkok began imposing emergency rationing as the consumption demands increase by 300-500 percent.

Floods in the northern, northeastern and central areas have to date claimed at least 373 lives since mid-July and affected nearly 2.5 million people./.