Thailand: Cabinet approves compensation for flood victims;death toll reaches 79

Announcing a series of measures to alleviate the suffering, a government spokeswoman compared the situation to the December 2004 tsunami that killed more than 5,400 on Thailand's southwestern Andaman Sea coast, according to the AP.

"The Cabinet has approved relief measures in the same manner they did for tsunami victims," government spokeswoman Sansanee Nakphong said after the weekly Cabinet meeting. She did not give details.

According to the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, 79 people have been confirmed killed and 37 are missing after flooding in the northern provinces of Uttaradit, Phrae, Sukhothai, Nan and Lampang.

At least 3,600 houses, 90 bridges, 526 roads and 48 dikes were damaged and 700,000 people affected by the floods.

Authorities have initially estimated the damage to state infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, to be at least 256 million baht (US$6.7 million; Ђ5.2 million). The estimate does not take into account private property, such as homes.

In addition to the compensation for victims, the Cabinet also approved special budgets for infrastructure and road reconstruction and building new dikes to reduce the impact from future flash floods.

At the same time, state banks,  which provide much of the credit extended in Thailand's rural areas,  agreed to cancel the debts owed by people killed in the flood, rather than adding to the burden of their surviving relatives. They also agreed to temporarily suspend debt repayments by other flood victims.

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