BANGKOK, Thailand: Floods Kill At Least 21 & Strands Thousands Of Tourist: UPDATED

30 Mar

NEWS UPDATE:
Thai flood toll reaches 11, thousands stranded
AFP – Thai men ride their motorbikes through flood waters following heavy rains in Thailand’s southern …
Severe flooding and mudslides in southern Thailand have killed 21 people, stranded thousands of tourists and threatened to delay shipments of rubber in the world’s largest rubber-producing country, authorities said on Wednesday.

Trains to the region have been cancelled and three airports have been shut, including one on the popular island of Koh Samui. As well as Koh Samui, foreign tourists have also been stuck at resorts in Krabi and Koh Phangan.

The Thai navy evacuated about 1,200 people from Koh Samui and Koh Tao, a remote island popular with backpackers.

Thailand’s navy sent four vessels including an amphibious landing craft with on-board helicopters to deliver supplies and rescue tourists and villagers in areas severely hit.

“More rain is expected in the next few days,” Satit Wongnongtoey, a minister in the prime minister’s office, told Reuters.

British ambassador Asif Ahmad said Britain was in close contact with the Thai navy on the evacuation of tourists from the region.

The flooding could delay shipments of between 1,000 and 1,500 tonnes of smoked rubber sheet, industry officials said. The region supplies 90 percent of the 3.2 million tonnes produced annually in Thailand, the world’s biggest producer and exporter.

“Small producers along the upper south, who need to carry rubber by road to be shipped from Bangkok’s port are facing disruption as roads are cut off,” Prapas Uernontat, secretary general of the Thai Rubber Association, told Reuters.

Nearly a million people have been affected by unseasonably heavy downpours across the region.

Mudslides were reported in three areas in Krabi province. At least 10 people were killed in one village, with at least 10 others missing.

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

Along with the airport on Koh Samui, the Nakhon Si Thammarat and Surat Thani airports have also been shut.

(Additional reporting by Apornrath Phoonphongphiphat; Editing by Martin Petty and Jeremy Laurence)

 ——————

By Ambika Ahuja Ambika Ahuja :

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Severe flooding in southern Thailand has killed 11 people and stranded thousands of tourists on resort islands, authorities said on Wednesday, predicting more rain and issuing warnings for possible mudslides.

Nearly a million people have been affected by more than a week of unseasonably heavy downpours across the region with tens of thousands of families cut off from air and land transport.

Trains to the region have been canceled and three airports have been shut, including one on the resort island of Koh Samui which is popular among Thai and foreign tourists.

Several main roads and highways have been blocked by floods.

The Thai navy sent four vessels including an amphibious landing craft with on-board helicopters to the rubber-rich region to deliver supplies and rescue tourists and villagers in areas severely hit.

“The army and the navy are working together to help those stranded and evacuate others who live in areas at risk of a mudslide,” Satit Wongnongtoey, a minister in the prime minister’s office, told Reuters.

“More rain is expected in the next few days.”

The flooding, however, has had little impact on rubber production in region which produces around 90 percent of Thailand’s annual production of around 3.2 million tonnes.

No shipment delays have been reported. Farmers stopped tapping trees for rubber in late February in anticipation of normally dry weather at this time of year.

“Not much rubber is carried by trucks to be shipped from Bangkok‘s ports. Most of it is shipped in bulk down to Malaysia’s Penang port,” said a trader at Thailand’s Hat Yai rubber center.

(Additional reporting by Apornrath Phoomphongphiphat; Editing by Jason Szep and Sanjeev Miglani)

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