Thursday, May 25, 2006

Flash floods hit north Thailand

Bad news for Thailand! The flooding is starting early this year, in May! It hardly rains in May but not this year... it has been raining for weeks and now the floods are hitting those least able to escape the inundations. I understand the confirmed death toll has climbed to over 50. More mudslides are predicted as the ground is so thoroughly saturated.

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Flash floods hit north Thailand
More than 100 people are feared dead after floods caused by heavy rains in northern Thailand, officials have said.

At least 27 bodies have been found so far, according to government figures, but the death toll is expected to rise much higher.

Rescue teams in helicopters are trying to reach thousands of people still stranded in their homes.

The province of Uttaradit is the worst affected. Up to two metres (6.5 feet) of water is covering some streets.

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is scheduled to inspect the area on Wednesday.

Mr Thaksin resumed his official duties on Tuesday after a seven-week leave of absence due to the country's ongoing political problems.

The heavy flooding has come at the start of Thailand's rainy season, which is expected to last until October.

But the three consecutive days of heavy rain that have hit this region are very unusual, leading to mudslides and rivers bursting their banks.

One of the worst hit areas was Lablae district in Uttaradit province.

Many of the victims are thought to have been swept away by the flood waters, or buried in the swirling mud.

More than 1,000 people have been evacuated from affected areas, while more than 75,000 have suffered damage to property, according to Interior Ministry estimates.

Rail services to northern Thailand have been suspended.

"The floods have inundated the rail lines in the north, and the water is still high. We have to wait until it recedes so we can repair the tracks," rail spokesman Monthskarn Srivilasa told the French news agency AFP.

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