TOKYO -- Across submerged industrial parks in Thailand's flooded heartland, scuba divers are braving electrocution and poisonous snakes to get Japan's carmakers back on line.
Their mission: Plumb the filthy floodwaters that have inundated the factories and pull out machinery, jigs, dies -- any equipment they can retrieve -- so operations can resume on dry land.
The desperate salvage campaign underscores the depths, literally, that Japan's auto manufacturers are going to as they struggle to recover from their worst supply chain crisis since Japan's earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in March. Shortages of parts from inundated suppliers have closed assembly plants throughout Southeast Asia and slashed output as far away as the United States, Japan, South Africa and England.
Honda Motor Co. halved its U.S. production schedule through at least Thursday, Nov. 10, and sees normal output resuming only by late December. The planned December sales launch of the redesigned 2012 Honda CR-V may be delayed by several weeks. Toyota Motor Corp. has extended its U.S. production slowdown through Nov. 14.
Honda's plants in Japan are running at half capacity, and there is no timetable for normalcy. Toyota and Nissan Motor Co. also have scaled back production in Japan.
And a month after the first Thai plants closed, the waters still show little sign of receding.