'Worst floods in 23 years' displace around 37 000 in Narathiwat, southern Thailand

'Worst floods in 23 years' displace around 37 000 in Narathiwat, southern Thailand

Severe flooding displaced some 37 000 residents in the province of Narathiwat, southern Thailand, authorities reported Saturday, December 21, 2019. Two days of torrential rains have inundated five districts in the province -- Sukhirin, Waeng, Sungai Kolok, Chanae, and Si Sakhon. A resident of Waeng district said the flood was the worst in 23 years. 

Several roads in the districts of Sukhirin and Chanae were also impassable to light vehicles.

In a statement on Saturday, the Narathiwat Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Division said 37 171 residents from 8 335 families were affected so far.

Soldiers, government officials, and volunteers rushed to aid the afflicted population.

"A total of 120 residents from 55 families have been evacuated to relief centers," authorities said.

Zakariya Yusuf, a resident of Waeng district, said the worst flood in over two decades 23 years submerged his home. "The water level rose rapidly early this morning."

"We did not manage to move most of our belongings including cars and furniture to higher grounds," he added.

Narathiwat Governor Ekkarat Leesern declared the five affected districts-- all nearby Malaysian border-- as disaster areas after floodwater levels kept rising over Thursday evening, December 19, into Friday morning, December 20, and again on Saturday, December 21. Floodwater from Malaysia also spread across Narathiwat, aggravating the ongoing inundation.

"Temporary shelters have been set up for the evacuees by more than 100 military-trained rangers," Leesern said.

The prices of farm produce have increased as agricultural areas were ravaged.

Disaster authorities in Thailand report that almost 60 000 people were affected by flooding in the province earlier in December 2019.

Featured image credit: JMA/Himawari-9, RAMMB/CIRA. Acquired at 03:40 UTC on December 19, 2019

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