Unseasonal rain to bring more misery in flood-hit Thai south

BANGKOK • Thailand faces more hardship from the unseasonable floods that have killed 40 people in the southern part of the country.

More rain is expected in the major rubber-producing and tourist region in coming days, a top disaster agency official said yesterday.

Heavy rain - persisting well into what should be the dry season - has triggered floods across the south, cutting road and rail links, threatening crops and affecting about 1.6 million people, said Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department head Chatchai Promlert.

"The worst isn't over. We're expecting more rain this week while clean-up efforts are under way in places where the waters have subsided," Mr Chatchai added.

According to the Thai Meteorological Department website, more rain is expected today.

  • 10% The degree that Thailand's natural rubber output for 2016-2017 is expected to drop by, according to the national rubber authority.

The rainy season in Thailand usually lasts from June to November. This year, the floods began on Jan 1, after unseasonably heavy rain.

Thailand is one of the world's most important producers of natural rubber. The national rubber authority last Thursday said output in 2016-2017 would be about 10 per cent lower because of the floods.

Global rubber prices have spiked over concerns about the impact.

Flooding occurs in Thailand regularly during the rainy season but January is traditionally sunny and clear, and a high season for the tourist industry, including in southern seaside resorts.

The country saw its worst flooding in half a century in 2011, when heavy rain, starting in July over the northern regions, led to six months of flooding, including in the central plains, where industrial estates have replaced rice fields.

The floods submerged a third of the country, killed more than 900 people and crippled industry.

The army, which seized power in a 2014 coup, has again been playing a major role in helping with relief efforts. The army played a similar role in relief efforts in 2011 while the then civilian government was criticised for what many saw as lacklustre disaster efforts.

The Federation of Thai Industries last week said the southern floods would have little impact on economic growth.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 16, 2017, with the headline 'Unseasonal rain to bring more misery in flood-hit Thai south'. Print Edition | Subscribe