Floods of fury


Rescue efforts underway to save survivors of destroyed Krabi village; 100 still missing; Emergency evacuation in Trang, Phatthalung, Nakhon Si Thammarat and Phuket

Intense rescue and recovery efforts are underway to save survivors and locate more than 100 people still unaccounted for after a village in floodhit Krabi was swept away by a landslide yesterday morning.

Two bodies have been retrieved near Ban Ton Harn Ville in Khao Phanom district, while an unspecified number of survivors have been found and treated for injuries, said a local military commander. He estimated the number of missing at more than 100.

LtColonel Thim Ruento said his 200plus troops also assisted civilian rescuers in the operations, as well as providing electricity and relief supplies to a shelter where a number of survivors reside amid a blackout and lack of tap water.

He said flatbed barges and military trucks have approached all accessible areas but could not yet reach flooded or mudcovered locations. Fifteen sniffer dogs are being used in the operations.

The number of bodies retrieved has increased to five and the number of survivors was given at 40 by assistant provincial governor Wisutthiwong Anantaphong, as chief of civilian operations. He said only five missing people could so far be identified.

The civilian operations ended at 4pm due to the lack of electricity and spotlights. Most of the 40 survivors suffered minor injuries and declined to receive hospital treatment. They are now staying in three shelters, Wisutthiwong said.

Emergency evacuations will be carried out in four other hardhit provinces of Nakhon Si Thammarat, Trang, Phatthalung and Phuket, especially in areas near hills in case of landslides, said the government's adhoc relief centre. It said 13 people had been killed elsewhere, 11 major reservoirs were brimming and more than 732,000 rai of farmland and plantations were flooded or damaged.

In Phunphin district in Surat Thani, Tha Rong Chang hospital was under a metre of floodwater, causing an evacuation of 80 patients to higher ground and prompting a helicopter airlift of two in serious condition to the Surat Thani general hospital. A field hospital has been set up near the obliterated village to provide firstaid treatment for minor injuries.

An Irrigation Department warning said heavy rain and subsequent flash floods were possible for the next few days in all nine affected provinces. The department's water drainage operations were continuing at full scale but flow to the sea outlets was slow because of widespread stagnant flooding.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva yesterday visited Ban Ton Harn Ville and the survivors, giving them survival kits.

He returned to Bangkok in the evening and appeared on a live television programme to raise relief funds at 9pm.

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