Death toll rises to 37 in Thai flash floods

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The Independent Online

The death toll from flash floods in southern Thailand that swept away holidaymakers at two mountainside waterfalls rose to 37 yesterday, officials said.

More than 300 rescue workers from government agencies and private foundations continued to search for bodies near the Sairung and Praisawan waterfalls in the Yantakao district of Trang province, 420 miles south of Bangkok.

San Chantarawong, chief of the provincial disaster prevention center, said 37 bodies have been recovered from Saturday's tragedy, with four people still missing.

His deputy, Soralak Thiepwu, said 28 bodies were retrieved on Saturday before the recovery teams suspended work overnight due to darkness.

Hundreds of people were at both sites when the floods struck on Saturday afternoon, said officials.

The areas at the bases of the waterfalls' cascades serve as recreational parks, popular with low-cost vacationers who can splash in the normally shallow, rocky streams in the cooling shade of the forests.

Such sites were more crowded than usual this weekend because Thailand is celebrating its traditional New Year, a holiday that extends over about a week and sees many people go to the countryside.

The disaster prevention center said the flood was triggered by three consecutive days of rain that raced down the steep Bantad mountain range.

The Meteorological Department yesterday issued a warning that more flash floods were possible in the mountainous areas of the south due to continuing rain.