Thailand floods death toll rises to 40, more rainfall expected in coming days

The Federation of Thai Industries says the southern floods would have little impact on economic growth.

Thailand flood death toll rises to 40, authorities expect more rainfall and hardship from unseasonable floods
A bridge damaged by floods is pictured at Chai Buri District, Surat Thani province, southern Thailand, January 9, 2017. Reuters

Thailand's top disaster agency said on Sunday that the country might face more hardship from unseasonable floods that have already killed 40 people in its southern part as more rainfall is expected in coming days.

Chatchai Promlert, head of the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department, said persistent heavy rain has triggered floods across the south, cutting road and rail links, threatening crops and has affected about 1.6 million people.

"The worst isn't over. We're expecting more rain this week while clean-up efforts are underway in places where the waters have subsided," Chatchai told Reuters.

The Meteorological Department said on its website that more rain was expected on Monday. Usually, Thailand's wet season ends in late November and heavy rain and flooding are quite rare in January. But, the floods, which began on Jan 1, have followed unseasonably heavy rain.

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. The national rubber authority said on Thursday output in 2016-2017 would be about 10 percent lower because of the floods. The rubber prices across the globe have spiked on concern.

This sudden rainfall has also 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.

In 2011, the country saw its worst flooding in half a century that submerged one-third of the country. More than 900 people were killed in the devastating floods. The civilian government was criticized for the lack in disaster efforts however the army played a major role in the relief efforts.

Last week, the Federation of Thai Industries said the southern floods would have little impact on economic growth.