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Southern Thailand under water

Luc CItrinot, eTN  Nov 02, 2010

BANGKOK (eTN) - Less than a week after uninterrupted rains turned large parts of Isaan provinces in Northeast Thailand into disaster areas with over 100 dead and thousands of people displaced, the kingdom is bracing again for a series of new flooding. This time, however, it is affecting the south of the country. According to latest reports from newspapers and local people fron the south, the city of Hat Yai in Songkhla Province has been completely paralyzed due to flash flooding with 10,000 locals and visitors being stranded there. Hat Yai is a popular destination for Malaysians or Singaporeans. On Tuesday morning, however, the city center was three meters deep under water with department stores, banks, and houses inundated.

The East Coast has been particularly affected by violent rains. Nakhon Si Thammarat was declared a disaster zone with six districts - including the city - under water. On the west coast, Patthalung was also declared a disaster zone, while Satun - the province across Langkawi Island in Malaysia - was not that affected. Phuket has been put on alert due to eventual mudslides at 10 locations on the island. However, Phuket as well as Krabi, have so far been spared by flash rains.

The government has released flood assistance for victims. According to the National Economic and Social Development Board, damages from flooding are estimated to come to THB 32 billion (US$1.06 billion) with some 3.5 million acres of agricultural land being devastated, with rice paddies being particularly affected. It is estimated that 3.7 million people in 31 provinces will need assistance over the coming weeks. Victims will start to receive emergency cash of THB 5,000 (US$166) to help cope with the immediate impact. Apart from compensation to damaged farms, the government will also help to repair schools and public health centers affected by rising waters.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is ready to step up with private operators to launch a major campaign promoting sites which have been badly affected by flooding. TAT continues to post updated information every day about the situation under .

The campaign is expected to kick off about the middle of next month, and TAT has assigned the Association of Domestic Travel (ADT) to design package tours and aggressive promotions to boost local tourism in the coming high season.

According to the latest bulletin issued by the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department on Tuesday afternoon, flooding has continued to affect 120 districts of 21 provinces in Isaan and Central Thailand including Nakhon Sawan, Uthai Thani, Nakhon Ratchasima, Chaiyaphum, Si Sa Ket, Surin, Buri Ram, Khon Kaen, Kalasin, Maha Sarakham, Ubon Ratchathani, Chai Nat, Sing Buri, Ang Thong, Suphan Buri, Ayutthaya, Lop Buri, Saraburi, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, and Chachoengsao.

Southern Thailand under water
Paddies under water around Bangkok on October 29, 2010 / Photo by L.Citrinot

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