BANGKOK: Flash floods wreaked havoc in southern Thailand yesterday, cutting rail and road links, stranding tourists and sparking fears for the lives of at least 20 fishermen missing in heavy seas.
All rail service between here and the southern provinces had been suspended since Saturday when tracks were inundated by floods brought on by heavy late monsoon rains.
The main road link south, the Petchkasem Highway, also was closed by the flood waters, which have risen steadily since Friday night when water from three dams was released to relieve pressure.
The Thai navy was engaged in search and rescue operations in the Gulf of Thailand yesterday, trying to locate at least 20 fishermen in several boats that went missing off the southern province of Songkhla.
Some of the missing were aboard a trawler that sank in the heavy seas and officials held out little hope for their survival.
One fisherman was badly injured on Saturday when heavy seas caused some equipment to slide across the deck of his ship and crush his leg.
Sukumarn Sritula, an official of the State Railways of Thailand, said a total of 64 train services were cancelled since Saturday and it was unknown when they would be resumed.
The water level is still too high.Services will remain closed the rest of today. Tomorrow we'll take a look at the damage and begin repairs, Sukumarn said yesterday.
She said she had no idea when rail service from hereto the south would be resumed.
Water levels rose as high as 50cm along some stretches of track, but Sukumarn said the level had fallen to 38cm by yesterday afternoon.
More than 10,000 people were turned away from Bangkok's Hua Lampong train station as a result of the suspension of service.
Highway officials said the worst road damage was in Petchaburi province, particularly around the tourist resorts of Hua Hin and Cha Am, 177km south of here.
Although the main highway was flooded, some alternate routes were open to buses and heavy trucks.
Residents of Petchaburi, and surrounding provinces were also bracing for further floods. dpa
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