Flood toll reaches 30 in southern Thailand

BANGKOK, Thailand, AP

The death toll from floods that have ravaged southern Thailand rose to 30 Saturday amid growing health fears for villagers cut off by the flooding, officials said. Most of the fatalities have been young children who drowned or were electrocuted. Other victims were sick people who had been stranded in flooded houses, said a Thai civil defense division statement. About 400,000 people have been affected by the floods caused by torrential rains this week in nine Thai provinces. Vast areas of agricultural land have been submerged. Relief workers have had difficulties delivering food and water to the stranded people by flat bottom boats. Water in some areas remains as high as 1.5 to 2 meters (5-6.6 feet), the statement said. The public has been urged to donate food supplies and medicines to help the victims. Floods have also wracked neighboring Malaysia. Dozens of villages and large tracts of rice paddies have been destroyed by swirling waters in eastern Kelantan and Terengganu provinces killing 14 people, Malaysian media reported Friday. In the worst-hit Thai province of Songkhla, 950 kilometers (590 miles) south of Bangkok, 200,000 people spent their third night without electricity Friday, The Nation newspaper reported. A Thai navy aircraft carrier carrying food and medical supplies is helping to ferry supplies by boat and helicopter to affected communities in the province. Rail services to the southernmost parts of Thailand have been cut. Thirty-one 31 patients in critical condition were evacuated from a hospital in the flooded town of Hat Yai, as power has been cut at the hospital there, The Nation reported. Public health officials fear a spread of disease and psychological depression among flood victims caused by anxiety about property damages and the safety of the stranded relatives, the statement said. The rain has now eased but the Thai Meteorological Department warned that there could be fresh downpours in the next few days.