Thai PM blames illegal logging for flood deaths

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The Independent Online

The Thai Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra (pictured right), yesterday blamed illegal logging for worsening devastation caused by flash floods that have killed more than 70 people in the north of the country. He ordered an investigation into thousands of logs washed loose by the floodwaters.

Mr Thaksin made a second visit to the north yesterday to inspect the damage in the Soongmen and Denchai districts of Phrae province. "I was startled to see thousands of logs floating in the reservoir and in dams," he said. "It must be the work of businessmen who cut down these trees illegally."

He said he had ordered officials to investigate the logging, adding: "This is one factor that caused the severe flash floods. These logs hit and damaged the houses and property of people."

More than 1,000 soldiers and volunteers with dogs have trawled through a sea of mud searching for victims in the past week, but work has proceeded slowly because some areas were only accessible by helicopter.

The US Agency for International Development gave £27,000 for relief supplies.