Heavy floods sever overland routes to Thailand’s south

Surat Thani: Overland routes to Thailand’s flood-hit south were severed on Tuesday after two bridges collapsed following days of torrential rain that has killed at least 25 people, including a five-year-old girl.
The heaviest January rains for three decades have lashed the country’s south for more than a week, affecting 1.1 million people across eleven provinces.
The unseasonal downpours have also put a dampener on Thailand’s peak tourist period, prompting cancellations on popular resort islands including Samui and Phangan.
The Highways Department said the main road heading down Thailand’s southern neck was closed after two bridges collapsed in Prachuab Kiri Khan province.
Trains south have also been stopped by the rising floodwaters, increasing demand on already stretched flights to and from the flood-ravaged region.
The death toll has crept up in recent days as floods have reached roof-top level in some areas.
A five-year-old girl became the latest victim when a flash flood hit a van she was travelling in late on Monday in Prachuab Kiri Khan province.
January usually sees visitors flocking to southern Thailand’s pristine beaches as monsoon rains abate and temperatures ease.
But the region has been battered by what the Thai junta describes as the heaviest January rainfall in 30 years.
In flood-hit areas of Surat Thani province, a tourist gateway to the party islands of Samui and Phangan, villagers said a week of rain had brought an unprecedented deluge.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha on Tuesday said residents should have heeded evacuation warnings issued ahead of the floods.
Television images have shown villagers wading through muddy water in remote flooded hamlets, with a few salvaged belongings held above their heads.
Television pictures showed abandoned cars submerged in murky waters in Prachuap Kiri Khan province where a torrent washed out a bridge on the main road linking Bangkok to the south, causing the 200 km tailback, media reported. — AFP/Reuters