Thai flood toll reaches 25

Severe flooding in southern Thailand has left 25 dead and caused thousands to be evacuated.

Last Updated: Apr 01, 2011, 20:15 PM IST

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 mudslides 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.

Around 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, chairman 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 floodwaters had receded.

But he said roads and water pipes were in need of
repair in some places and 30 per cent 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.

All together 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.

PTI