In Thailand Heavy flooding kills 14, inundates tourist isles

The authorities said floods had also severed the rail link to the south and Malaysia beyond.

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Onlookers and rescue workers stand on a bridge in a flooded area in Sichon District, Nakhon Si Thammarat province, Thailand December 4, 2016. play

Onlookers and rescue workers stand on a bridge in a flooded area in Sichon District, Nakhon Si Thammarat province, Thailand December 4, 2016.

(Reuters)
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Floods in Thailand have killed 14 people and badly affected southern holiday islands as the country heads into the December-January high season for tourism, authorities said on Tuesday.

They said that a low pressure system had brought heavy rain to parts of the south including the islands of Samui and Pha Ngan in the Gulf of Thailand.

The authorities said floods had also severed the rail link to the south and Malaysia beyond.

Tourism has been a rare bright spot for an economy that has struggled to gain traction since the army seized power in a bloodless coup in 2014 to end months of political unrest.

“The death on Oct. 13 of long-reigning King Bhumibol Adulyadej plunged the country into grief.

“Also raised questions about tourist arrivals though authorities say the country is open for business in spite of a year of mourning.

“There has been heavier rain than usual which has caused drainage problems,’’ Nongyao Jirundom of the state Tourism Authority of Thailand on Samui island told newsmen.

According to Jirundom, swimming is out of the question.

The National Disaster Warning Centre said 14 Thai people had been killed in various accidents caused by the weather in different parts of the south.

Southbound trains have been halted in the town of Thung Song in Nakhon Si Thammarat province because of flooding.

According to the data, Nakhon Si Thammarat has had 447 mm of precipitation in the past 7 days, 380 mm more than the average for this time of year.

December marks the beginning of the dry season when tourists descend on palm fringed beaches to celebrate the Christmas and New Year holidays.

Authorities were bullish about the outlook for tourism, which accounts for 10 per cent of gross domestic product, in spite of the mourning period for the late king.

The tourism ministry expects a record 32.4 million arrivals this year.

Widespread floods in 2011 killed over 900 people and caused major disruption to industry, cutting economic growth that year to just 0.1 per cent. 

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