Aerial view shows a mosque in the flooded southern Thai city of Hat Yai, November 2, 2010. Thailand battled on November 2 to rescue thousands of people trapped in their homes after flash floods -- several metres deep in places -- swept through a southern city, cutting power and communications. Rising waters began to inundate Hat Yai, a city of more than 150,000 in Songkhla province, late on November 2 after days of heavy downpours. Photo: REUTERS via telegraph.co.uk

By Staff Writers
Bangkok (AFP) Nov 2, 2010

Thailand battled Tuesday to rescue thousands of people stranded in their homes after flash floods - several metres deep in places - swept through a southern city, cutting power and communications.

Heavy flooding has already killed more than 100 people around the country since October 10 in what Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva described as "a huge natural calamity".

Rising waters began to inundate Hat Yai, a city of more than 150,000 in Songkhla province, late Monday after days of heavy downpours, affecting tens of thousands of people, possibly including foreign tourists. …

Viroch Phomchai, regional director of the government's department of disaster prevention and mitigation, told AFP of the situation in Hat Yai: "I believe that thousands are trapped in their houses.

"I've tried to contact large hotels in Hat Yai city but communications are down, so I think many tourists are stranded."

The area is particularly popular with people from Malaysia and Singapore.

Television pictures showed some buildings submerged almost up to their roofs in the low-lying city near the southern border.

In neighbouring Malaysia, schools were shut and more than 12,000 people evacuated in two northern states due to floods.

Earlier, Hat Yai mayor Prai Pattano had estimated that tens of thousands of people were stranded in their homes because of the flood water, which he said was three to four metres (up to 13 feet) deep in some areas.

The authorities estimate that almost six million people across Thailand have been affected by the disaster over the past three weeks, with homes submerged and farmland or cattle destroyed.

"There are many serious problems in the south as all types of communications as well as roads were cut off. I will focus on how to rescue stranded people," Abhisit told reporters before a planned trip to the region.

"The water level is very high and there is no sign that it will begin to recede," he said. …

Flash floods strand thousands in major Thai city

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