19 dead in flood-battered southern Thailand

Flash floods in southern Thailand have left 19 dead and affected nearly a million others since New Year's day, the country's Crisis Prevention Centre said Sunday.

Most of the 19 fatalities involved drownings, the centre reported, while persistent heavy rainfall and floodwater have impacted over 958,000 people across 10 submerged provinces as of Sunday.

The flooding prompted the authorities to raise the disaster management level to level three on Friday, transferring authority from the provincial level to national officials.

Level four, reserved for the most severe natural disasters, was put in place for floods in 2011 that killed 815 people and affected 13.6 million others, crisis officials told dpa.

The rising flood waters also led to ten crocodiles escaping their zoo enclosure in Nakhon Si Thammrat province, the Bangkok Post reported on Saturday.

Most of the animals, the largest of which is five metres long, are still on the loose, Nakhon Si Thammarat police confirmed to dpa on Sunday.

Popular tourist destination Koh Samui island was also affected by heavy rain and strong currents.

Swimming and diving were banned at most of Koh Samui's beaches until further notice, the Tourism Authority of Thailand told dpa.

Nakhon Si Thammarat airport will remain shut until Monday, authorities said, citing flooded runways, while many rail routes in southern Thailand have been suspended indefinitely.

Rescue efforts are underway for residents stranded and cut off from other communities due to the floods. Police and army officers have been dispatched to distribute relief packages to flood victims, authorities said.

Last update: Sun, 08/01/2017 - 10:59
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