Thailand

Floods expected to worsen in Thailand's south

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Thailand, Nov 12, 2008 - The Thai Meteorological Department forecasts continued heavy rains in southern Thailand through the end of this week and into the next, which are expected to add to the severe flooding that has affected hundreds of thousands of people this week. The worst flooding has occurred in Nakhon Si Thammarat province, where disaster prevention and mitigation officials said Wednesday (November 12) that more than 128,450 residents in at least eight districts have been affected by floods, according to Bangkok-based The Nation. In Tha Sala, floodwaters forced officials to evacuate patients from the main hospital Wednesday, The Nation reported. Residents are being advised to brace for further flooding and officials say thousands of acres of rubber and palm plantations have been damaged. In Surat Thani province, Tha Chana district is faced with floods that are 3.3 feet (one meter) deep in some areas, forcing all schools to close. Three districts have been declared emergency disaster zones and medical officials and boats have been dispatched to assist affected populations, according to the government. In Phattalung province, the disaster prevention chief has warned the public to stay away from waterfalls in the Banthat mountain range because of the potential for flash floods, The Nation reported. A large landslide has already been reported due to heavy rains in Si Banphot district, but there were no casualties. The area has been placed under 24-hour watch and officials say 30 villages are on notice for evacuation due to risks of further landslides, according to The Nation. Officials in Trang province have also warned residents of landslides and flash floods. Meteorologists said Wednesday that heavy downpours could be expected in Nakhon Si Thammarat, Surat Thani, Phattalung, Trang and Chumphon provinces throughout the next week and residents should expect flooding for at least the next 12 days. According to The Nation, small boats have been advised that waves up to 10 feet (three meters) in height are expected on Friday (November 14) along the southeastern coast line. Thailand's monsoon season typically runs from May through October. This year's season has been fairly mild, but widespread flooding was reported in central provinces over the past two weeks.