Thailand: 9 killed, thousands trapped by flash floods

Flash floods triggered by days of heavy rain killed at least nine people and trapped thousands of others on rooftops and inside trains in northern Thailand, officials said Tuesday.

Officials said that with dozens also missing, the death toll was expected to rise as outlying villages hit by landslides were reached by rescuers.

"The flooding is severe and the death toll is expected to be high," Interior Minister Kongsak Wantana told reporters.

The floods, following three consecutive days of rain, inundated several towns in the provinces of Nan, Phrae, Lampang, Sukhothai and Uttaradit and caused landslides in the mountainous region, officials said.

Kongsak said that according to reports he had received from the flood-hit areas, nine people have been killed and about 220 injured, with 47 still listed as missing.

Most of the missing are believed to trapped under tons of mud from a landslide that engulfed dozens of houses in Lablae district of Uttaradit province.

More than 2,000 other people in the district were trapped on the roofs of their houses or in trees, said Nitipat Pimpiriyakul, chief of the provincial Disaster Prevention and Rescue Center.

Lablae is one of the worst-hit areas because thousands of people there are without food and electricity and rescue teams being sent by boat have so far not reached them. But there are upward of 50,000 households in Uttaradit, Sukhothai and Phrae are without power.

"We believe that the death toll will rise because rescue teams are still unable to get into villages where the landslide hit the houses of villagers," Nitipat said.

More than 1,000 passengers were also trapped inside four trains stranded in Uttaradit stations with food running out, said Montakan Sriwipas, a spokeswoman for the state railways, reports the AP.

I.L.