Thailand floods: Death toll rises to 18, tourism industry highly affected

Authorities say the floods has also affected the rubber-production in the country.

Thailand floods death toll rises up to 18, tourism industry highly affected
Cars drive through a flooded street at Muang district in Nakhon Si Thammarat province, southern Thailand, January 6, 2017. Reuters

At least 18 people were killed due to flooding from heavy rains that hammered Thailand's south, leaving thousands of villages partially submerged.

According to the country's interior ministry, the flooding has affected nearly one million people in 10 southern provinces since it started a week ago. It said in some areas, the flood water was roof-high.

The government said the floods have turned roads into rivers, inundating farmland and has damaged more than 1,500 schools in the region.

Thailand's meteorological department said the rainfall is expected to persist for at least two more days. The department has also issued a warning for flash floods.

"The situation is very bad today and tomorrow. It's still raining heavily," Junjuda Pornsri, a meterological official told AFP.

On Saturday, the government said it has mobilized armed forces across the region to help evacuate the flood victims by providing temporary shelter and distributing emergency aid.

The Bangkok Post reported that the navy sent HTMS Ang Thong, its biggest landing platform dock ship, to the heavily flooded Nakhon Si Thammarat province on Saturday.

Two army helicopters were deployed in Nakhon Si Thammarat province to deliver food to families trapped inside their homes in Cha-uat district.

Bapha Suthiphanya, a 60-year-old said she was forced to evacuate her home after the waters rose above her head. She has spent the past three nights in a makeshift government shelter in the district.

"I was so shocked and scared. I've never seen water like this and I also cannot swim," she said.

Usually, Thailand's wet season ends in late November and heavy rain and flooding are quite rare in January. This is a high season for tourists to visit the kingdom's island resorts. But, this sudden rainfall has disrupted beach holidays in several traveller hot spots, including the popular islands of Samui and Phangan.

Hundreds of tourists were affected as their flights were delayed, while train and bus services on the mainland were also suspended.

This untimely rainfall has also affected the rubber-production in the country as southern Thailand is a major rubber-producing region. The wet weather was having a significant impact on production.