Tourists in flooded Thai south evacuated

4 Apr 2011

Tourists stranded on islands in the Gulf of Thailand were rescued by military aircraft carrier last Thursday. The Thai government dispatched its only vessel of this type to Koh Tao and Koh Phangan islands, where 800 people boarded and were evacuated.

The aircraft carrier was employed in the rescue operation following several days of unseasonable bad weather that had battered Thailand’s six southern provinces. Storms and heavy rains which had caused rough seas, floods and mudslides, both on the mainland and on offshore islands, are estimated to have claimed at least 45 lives as well as stranding people throughout the south of the country.

In the rescue operation on the Gulf of Thailand islands, at least half of the rescued people were foreigners who had been unable to leave when inter-island ferry services were suspended because of choppy seas. The problem had been exacerbated by the closure of Koh Samui Airport, although this re-opened on Thursday as the weather started to improve, and began clearing the excess of marooned passengers.       

Thai government officials say that up to one million people were affected by the bad weather. As well as the cancellation of ferries and closure of Koh Samui Airport, other regional airports, roads and the main north-south railway line were also closed.    

On a visit to the area on Wednesday, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said the storms could not have been foreseen and that weather patterns were changing at the moment. He added that the government would evacuate people thought to be in danger.  

Tags: Tourists evacuated

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