Flood death toll rises to 35 in southern Thailand - 20 December, 2005 - News

Rescue teams struggling through mountains of mud unleashed by flooding have found 2,000 people trapped in a southern Thai village without food since a landslide cut them off from the outside world three days earlier. The southern disaster prevention center said Tuesday at least 35 people have been killed in floods in the nine southernmost provinces of Thailand.

Civilian volunteers have been reluctant to look for victims stranded in remote villages of the three violence-plagued southernmost provinces for fear of attacks by Muslim insurgents. The government has dispatched military rescue units in the area.

Six soldiers of the regional army unit reached the remote village of Tanoh Buteh in Yala province late Monday and found the body of a man killed by a landslide that damaged 50 homes, said Samrerng Wongmuneeworn of the Yala disaster prevention center.

"The villagers said landslides had cut them off from the outside world three days ago, and people are starving because their food ran out," Samrerng said.

The floods, triggered by heavy rains over the past two weeks, prompted the government over the weekend to declare nine southern provinces disaster zones.

The affected area includes the Muslim-majority provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat, where more than 1,100 people have died in separatist violence since January 2004.

Thousands of people in the three restive provinces are still trapped by floodwaters. Pattani Gov. Panu Uthairat said Monday that rescue teams had to wait until daylight to start work because they feared separatist attacks, reports the AP. I.L.

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