Thai floods claim 53 lives

by Jessica MCILHINNEY on April 6, 2011

The severe floods which have been wreaking havoc in the south of Thailand have killed 53 people, according to officials. As the rain has now begun to ease off for the first time in two weeks, the grim task of counting the death toll has begun.

Thousands of foreign tourists were left stranded on islands in the Andaman Sea and around the Gulf of Thailand last week as the bad weather prompted trains and planes to be cancelled. When food and water began to run low on the popular holiday spots of Koh Phangan and Koh Samui, the Thai Navy was sent in to evacuate the most needy and drop off supplies.

Air and ferry links have now been reinstated in most tourist areas but the troops are still helping locals in the worst hit provinces. While the death toll isn’t as bad as the floods last year which killed 200 people, heavy machinery has been deployed to more than 10,000 soldiers who are charged with repairing the heavily damaged infrastructure.

It is estimated that at least two million people have been affected by the unseasonably wet weather, with 10 provinces flooded and at least 40,000 forced to flee their towns and villages. Much of the land in the south remains waterlogged while many bridges and roads are still completely out of action.

The Thai government has issued 6.13 billion baht (£120 million) to help rebuild homes and relocate flood victims. The freak downpours caused mudslides which killed many people who were not swept away with the initial flood waters. One person is still missing in Nakhon Si Thammarat, according to the public health ministry.

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