Thailand floods: 12 dead as record rainfall persists


At least 12 people have died and many villages been submerged after heavy rains caused severe flooding in southern Thailand.People walk in a flooded street at Muang district in Nakhon Si Thammarat province, southern Thailand, 6 January 2017

Hundreds of thousands of people have been affected with water levels reaching “roof-high” in some areas, Thailand’s interior ministry said.

Transport services, including flights, have been disrupted and rescue efforts are under way to reach those stranded.

The unseasonal downpour is expected to continue for at least two more days.Tourists use rubber rings to cross a flooded road on Ko Samui, Thailand, 5 January 2017

The flash floods have also damaged hundreds of schools and toppled power cables across southern Thailand.

Residents in villages across the region are using inflatables, such as rubber rings, to cross submerged roads.

Meanwhile, the airport in Nakhon Si Thammarat province has been forced to close after the area received a record 162mm (6.4 in) of rain on Friday, officials said.

An official for Thailand’s Meteorological Department told AFP news agency that the situation was “very bad”, adding that it was still “raining heavily” in the south.

In response to the crisis, the Thai navy has stationed its largest ship in the South to act as a floating command centre, dispatching aid using helicopters and small boats.

Last month, aerial footage showed flood damage to parts of southern Thailand with only rooftops visible above the flood waters. Supplies were being delivered to residents by boat.

The downpour in Thailand is unseasonably heavy for this time of year, with the country usually dry between November and January.

It comes at an unfortunate time for the Thai economy, which relies heavily on tourism, with this being peak holiday season.

In 2011, devastating floods in southern Thailand displaced thousands of people in more than a third of the country’s provinces, resulting in more than 600 deaths.