30 Mar 2011

Thailand: 21 die as floods cause chaos and strand tourists

The Thai navy steps in to mount a rescue as days of heavy rain bring floods and mudslides, forcing airports to close and the cancellation of trains.

Floods and mudlsides in Thailand kill 21 and strand tourists (Getty)

Thailand’s navy on Wednesday sent four vessels including an amphibious landing craft with on-board helicopters to deliver supplies and evacuate some 1,200 tourists and villagers from Koh Samui and Kho Tao. More tourists are known to be stuck in resorts at Krabi and Khoh Phangan. British ambassador Asif Ahmad said Britain was in close contact with the Thai navy over the evacuation from the region. As well as the airport on Koh Samui, the Nakhon si Thammarat and Surat Thani airports have also been closed.

Days of heavy rain have brought severe flooding and mudslides in southern Thailand, affecting nearly a million people and causing 21 deaths. Mudslides have been reported in three areas in Krabi province, in one village at least 10 people have been killed and at least 10 more are still missing. There have been unseasonably heavy downpours across the region and more rain is expected in the next few days.

Wiboon Sangruanpong, Director-General of the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, said that more mudslides were possible and it was too soon to assess full damage.

The flooding could also delay shipments of between 1,000 and 1,500 tonnes of smoked rubber sheet. This region supplies 90 per cent of the 3.2 million tonnes produced annually in Thailand, which is the world biggest producer and exporter of rubber.