Thai flood toll reaches 25

2011-04-01 08:55

Bangkok – Severe flooding in southern Thailand has left 25 dead and caused thousands to be evacuated, officials said today, after whole villages were engulfed by the rising waters.

Floods over a metre deep have washed across swathes of the south as unseasonably wet weather deluged the homes and businesses of around a million people in what should be one of the hottest months of the year.

Images in Thai media showed muddy waters reaching to the tops of palm trees, as deadly landslides destroyed homes and bridges and roads were washed away, leaving some areas cut off.

The death toll after 10 days of flooding includes five villagers killed by mud slides in Khao Phanom district, Krabi province, where troops were searching for victims in villages submerged by up to two metres of mud in some places.

About 9 000 people have been evacuated from waterlogged areas, including nearly 1 000 holidaymakers stranded on islands in the Gulf of Thailand and Andaman Sea who were picked up by naval ships on Wednesday and yesterday.

Ferry and air services to the popular resort of Koh Samui have now resumed and the navy said its boats were no longer needed.

Bannasat Ruangjan, the chairperson of the tourism association of Koh Samui, who said 13 000 tourists were stranded on the island earlier in the week, said the situation had “returned to normal” and the flood waters had receded.

But he said roads and water pipes were in need of repair in some places and 30% of hotel bookings had been cancelled.

The Similan National Park, a popular coral reef diving destination, was not accepting tour boats due to “unfavourable weather conditions”, according to the head of the reserve Sophon Pengprapan.

Thailand’s army used its helicopters to air-drop aid into isolated areas today and rescue elderly people trapped by the floods.

Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said the scale of the disaster had caught residents “off guard”.

“I am very concerned about those people because many roads were washed away in the flood and a lot of farmland was submerged,” he said.

In total, 87 districts in eight southern provinces have been declared disaster zones.

Thailand’s department of disaster prevention and mitigation said 181 people had been injured in the flooding.

Hundreds of properties, including homes, schools and temples, and more than 2 000 roads along with 222 bridges have been damaged.

The airport in Nakhon Si Thammarat remained closed after water submerged its runway a week ago, whiles trains were still unable to run in the affected region.

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