Cold snap in Thailand leaves 'at least 3 dead'

Thai women wearing long sleeves walk along a street in Bangkok, Thailand on Jan 25, 2016.
Thai women wearing long sleeves walk along a street in Bangkok, Thailand on Jan 25, 2016.PHOTO: EPA

BANGKOK/JEJU • A widespread cold snap which has caught many in Asia by surprise is believed to have led to the deaths of at least three elderly people in Thailand, as forecasters say the chill is likely to persist.

One of them was a 93-year-old woman in north-east Thailand who apparently died of hypothermia yesterday at her home after two consecutive days of unusually cold weather, according to local media.

In the central province of Chai Nat on Monday, a 72-year-old woman was found dead by her husband in her bed with a blanket covering only her feet, the Bangkok Post reported. A doctor said she might have died from the cold.

Up north on the Phu Thap Buek mountain, many tourists who had not anticipated the freezing temperatures in the South-east Asian country were said to have fled home after the mercury dropped to 0 deg C on Sunday night and rose to only 2 deg C on Monday.

The Meteorology Department warned on Monday that temperatures will fall further by 1 deg C to 3 deg C in the next two days owing to a strong high pressure zone covering the South China Sea and upper Thailand.

Tens of thousands of people stranded over the weekend on the South Korean resort island of Jeju by record snowfalls are being flown out by airlines which have begun operating all-night flights, officials said yesterday.

Jeju International Airport, which had been shut down by the weather conditions for nearly three days, was kept open throughout Monday night in an effort to clear the backlog of frustrated travellers.

More than 150 domestic and international flights - carrying over 30,000 passengers - had taken off from the airport as of 6am yesterday, the transport ministry said.

Known as the Hawaii of South Korea for its beaches and usually warm climate, Jeju bore the brunt of a week-long cold snap that sent the mercury plunging to record lows across the country. The holiday destination, which is very popular with Chinese as well as domestic tourists, recorded its heaviest snowfall in three decades over the weekend. The airport was shuttered for over 40 hours and about 86,000 people were stranded.

More than 230 flights with over 45,000 passengers on board were scheduled to leave Jeju yesterday, the transport ministry said.

THE NATION/ASIA NEWS NETWORK, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 27, 2016, with the headline 'Cold snap in Thailand leaves 'at least 3 dead''. Print Edition | Subscribe