BANGKOK (THE NATION/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Thailand's southern province of Nakhon Si Thammarat is struggling with a flood crisis that is claiming lives, disrupting train services and threatening to inundate its main airport.
The province's central area is also on the verge of being overwhelmed by rising floodwaters due to high tides and ongoing heavy rain. Late on Wednesday (Dec 6), military vehicles were helping transfer passengers into and out of Nakhon Si Thammarat Airport as flood levels on a nearby road had risen to at least 50cm deep.
Soldiers were also busy building flood barriers around key parts of the airport. Banharn Koabyayang, head of the regional railways centre, said the State Railway of Thailand had been forced to cancel eight trains leaving Nakhon Si Thammarat Train Station due to flooding.
"Four trains on the Bangkok-Nakhon Si Thammarat route were cancelled today," he said.
Train services for the Yala-Nakhon Si Thammarat and Sungai Kolok-Nakhon Si Thammarat routes were also cancelled.
"From the south, train passengers can travel to Hat Yai only," Banharn said. "This is because a 15-metre stretch of train tracks around the Kok Kram Train Station in Nakhon Si Thammarat is flooded."
Motorists were also affected, as Pattanakarn Khukwang and Sri Tham roads were almost entirely flooded in the heart of Nakhon Si Thammarat's Muang district. A commercial zone in the area was under 1.5m-deep water. A flooded road in the province has already been blamed for two deaths after the bodies of the two women who went missing when their bus was washed off a road were found yesterday morning. Manee Khamkaew, 63, and Chan Khamkaedw, 68, were travelling on a chartered bus when it was swept away in Si Chon district on Tuesday night.
Officials managed to rescue the bus driver and 49 passengers but the two women were unaccounted for until their bodies were found. The Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department (DPMD) said floods had already claimed 15 lives in Thailand's south from Nov 25 until Wednesday.
"Inundation has also upset the lives of more than 1.5 million people in the southern region during the period," DPMD director-general Chayapol Thitisak said. Eleven of the south's 14 provinces were flooded last week but the situation has reportedly returned to normal in Satun and Krabi, leaving nine still suffering: Pattani, Yala, Songkhla, Phatthalung, Trang, Narathiwat, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Surat Thani and Chumphon.
Soldiers from the 45th Army Circle helped evacuate 21 families from Ban Na Nua village in Tambon Don Sak to a temporary shelter. Among the evacuees was Somboon Miyakij, 86, who was so ill that she could not get out of bed. She said her house had never been hit by such serious flooding and she had been lucky that soldiers had evacuated her in time.
Sanon Yusathit, 34, his wife and two children also said they had been forced to stay at the shelter after their house was damaged by flooding.
The weather bureau has forecast that thunderstorms will continue in many parts of the south, particularly from Nakhon Si Thammarat southwards, until next Tuesday.