Floods hit southern Thailand

Straits Times 3 Jan 12;

Residents wading through a flooded road in Hat Yai district of Songkhla province, southern Thailand yesterday. Heavy, continuous monsoonal rains have caused flash floods and overflooded canals in several provinces in Thailand's south, just weeks after the country suffered its worst floods in 50 years. -- PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

BANGKOK: Weeks after Thailand suffered its worst floods in 50 years, rising waters are now threatening several provinces in the south.

Alert levels have also been raised from yellow to red in some parts of Hat Yai in Songkhla province, where heavy, continuous monsoonal rains have caused flash floods and overflooded canals.

Hundreds of residents have been evacuated from their homes, and many others in low-lying areas told to prepare for immediate emergency evacuations.

Apart from Songkhla, provinces such as Narathiwat, Phatthalung, Nakhon Si Thammarat and Yala have also been badly hit. At least one person has died, while tourists have been stranded in their hotels.

The local authorities expect the heavy rain and flooding to continue in some places till today, although provincial governor Dejrat Simsiri, citing a weather forecast, said the situation should ease by tomorrow if the heavy rain stops.

According to a Bangkok Post report yesterday, several Malaysian and Singaporean tourists who were celebrating the New Year in Hat Yai were stranded in their hotels when rising waters cut off roads and railways.

A road linking Hat Yai to Sadao, a district in Songkhla that borders northern Malaysia, was closed, while train services between the two towns were also disrupted.

The newspaper did not give any details on the stranded tourists or the hotels they were at.

Flood waters in the town reportedly reached 2m deep on Sunday, forcing residents to move to higher ground. A 54-year-old man drowned after failing to leave his flooded house.

In Phatthalung's Kong Ra district, eight hikers have gone missing after entering a forest to see the 'sea of mist' on Khao Lon mountain on Saturday. Friends staying at a village at the foot of the mountain said they have been unable to contact the group.


Flooding in Thai south still critical
Nine provinces affected; Nakhon Si Thammarat declared a disaster zone
Straits Times 5 Jan 12;

BANGKOK: The flood situation in nine provinces in southern Thailand remains critical, with roads submerged, train services halted, airports closed and many communities cut off, media reports here said yesterday.

Nakhon Si Thammarat province was declared a disaster zone yesterday, with more than 100,000 residents affected by floodwaters. The province lies to the south of the tourist island of Koh Samui.

While the rain stopped yesterday, some communities remained cut off by floods that submerged and damaged many roads and bridges and forced many schools to close, according to MCOT online news.

On Tuesday, bad weather forced the provincial airport authority to suspend all flights, stranding several hundred passengers. Some airports, such as Nakhon Si Thammarat Airport, reopened yesterday.

Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Yongyuth Wichaidit is expected to visit the province today, the report said.

In neighbouring Surat Thani province, emergency workers were trying to reach more than 30 villagers in Kanchanadit district who were left stranded after a flash flood. A fisherman was reported missing after his boat was overturned by high waves.

Flooding in Lang Suan district in Chumphon province, north of Surat Thani, eased yesterday after a flash flood left it under 1.5m of water.

On Tuesday, the Route 4 and Route 41 sections in Lang Suan were submerged, prompting police to divert traffic and impose reversible lanes, The Nation newspaper reported yesterday.

A huge traffic jam built up as a huge number of holidaymakers headed back to Bangkok after the New Year holiday break, it said.

The local hospital moved some patients it had evacuated back to the ward. It was also repairing its water pumping system.

In Ranong province, dozens of villages faced the risk of mudslides, The Nation reported, with 21 of them located in high-risk areas in Muang, Kapoe, La-un, Suk Samran and Kra Buri districts.

Train services to and from Bangkok were suspended on Tuesday, with passengers forced to complete their journeys on chartered buses, according to officials.

The latest floods come just weeks after Thailand suffered its worst flooding in 50 years, which struck the country's industrial and agricultural heartland, as well as its political hub of Bangkok.

More than 600 people were killed and another 2.4 million affected by the deluge, which began in late July and did not end until late November.