Worst flood in 50 years affects more than 500 000 people in southern Thailand

Worst flood in 50 years affects more than 500 000 people in southern Thailand

Widespread, severe flooding has killed at least nine people and affected 210 000 households or more than half a million people in southern Thailand, officials reported Friday, December 4, 2020, describing the situation as the worst they have seen in 50 years. A state of emergency has been declared for Nakhon Si Thammarat Province, where all the fatalities occurred.

Thailand's Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM) said another person reportedly went missing. The youngest victim was a child aged five.

DDPM added that the affected provinces are Surat Thani, Phatthalung, Trang, Songkhla, Pattani, Narathiwat, and the worst-hit, Nakhon Si Thammarat, where all nine deaths occurred and a state of emergency has been declared.

The extent of the damage has yet to be confirmed, but reports said scores of houses have been damaged, affecting half a million people. Flooding also ravaged almost 150 000 ha (370 000 acres) of farmland.

The main airport remains open to flight but was reportedly engulfed in floodwaters. Military vehicles were ferrying passengers to the terminal.

Meanwhile, the State Railway of Thailand said train services, particularly those running through the waters, would have to be canceled until the flood recedes.

"This year is the worst we’ve seen here in 50 years," Nakhon Si Thammarat governor Kraisorn Visitwong told AFP.

"We’ve had floods in certain parts of our province every year, but never this volume and the currents never this strong. We can’t even use our boats."

The Ministry of Finance assured that damages to residences, livestock, agriculture, careers, livelihoods, and infrastructure would be covered by the ministry.

The flooding came as heavy rains poured last week. It worsened the current situation of the region that has already been suffering from critical flood conditions from a series of depressions that hit Thailand since early October. This has generated water runoff in 35 provinces.

Severe weather is forecast to continue over the coming days as a powerful monsoon is prevailing over the Gulf of Thailand while a low-pressure system still covers the Strait of Malacca.

Featured image credit: IFRC Asia Pacific

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