Southern provinces ravaged by floods, landslides
CHUMPHON, March 27 -- Several tourists and villagers were trapped, roads cut off from the outside world and numerous people reported missing after they were swept into a swollen river as heavy downpours continued to devastate southern provinces in Thailand on Sunday.
Unusually torrential rains continued to hit southern provinces due to a high pressure system from China persisting over the region.
In Lang Suan district of Chumphon province, police decided to close the road linking the province with the resort province of Ranong in the afternoon after receiving reports that water runoff had flooded the highway as high as three metres, making it impossible for vehicles to pass through.
About 50 tourists were trapped but were later able to leave the area after flat-bottomed boats were dispatched to pick them up, police said.
Another road linking Lang Suan district with Surat Thani province was also cut off, forcing several thousand villagers to be stranded on a hill.
About five villagers were reported missing after they accidentally fell into the river, police said.
Villagers in Chumphon said they had never seen such heavy rains during March in past years in their province.
Initial damages, according to officials at Disaster Prevention and Mitigation office in Chumphon, were that three districts in the province were severely affected causing hardship to over 5,000 households. Villagers living in flood-prone areas were evacuated to higher ground.
Meanwhile, Theera Mintrasak, governor of Nakhon Si Thammarat province, which is believed to be hardest hit by the flood, said 21 out of 23 districts in the province were now declared flood disaster zones as many people were still struck in flooded areas.
Mr Theera said he would seek an extra budget allotment from the government to repair the runway of the airport in the province as planes still could not land there as it was still underwater. The money will also spent on building new water retention areas.
Damages in Nakhon Si Thammarat is estimated at more than Bt300 million, Mr. Theera said.
In nearby Surat Thani province, the situation was still worrisome as 10 districts are inundated and several houses collapsed because of landslides. Water runoff from a mountain had swept through three villages as officials helped villagers to higher ground.
Officials in Surat Thani had urged villagers in risky areas to temporarily evacuate from their homes as the amount of rainfall in some areas there was measured at 110 millimetres. Ferry services to Ko Phangan were now suspended temporarily as waves in the Gulf of Thailand were higher than three metres, making it too dangerous to make a journey. (MCOT online news)