Thai soldiers in floods rescue bid
Thailand has rushed soldiers and its only aircraft carrier to rescue residents in a southern city submerged by the country's latest floods after 107 people died from deluges last month.
The southern commercial hub of Hat Yai was transformed into a murky waterway with roads completely inaccessible by car. Trains to the city were cancelled.
Flood waters were as high as rooftops in some areas of Hat Yai on Tuesday, but the water had receded by half to around four feet high, said Vijit Thammasaro from the province's disaster prevention office.
A tropical depression and constant rain in the area on Sunday and Monday triggered the flooding, which forced the closure for a second day of the airport on Samui island, a popular tourist getaway in the Gulf of Thailand.
Thailand's meteorological department said the storm was moving west, away from Thailand, but warned of 13-foot waves in some coastal areas and the possibility of landslides and flash floods for residents in low-lying areas.
"I'm confident the situation has started to resolve," Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Wednesday, a day after calling the flooding "one of the worst natural calamities" to hit the country.
Thailand's only aircraft carrier, which rarely leaves its berth, was deployed to help out and was expected to reach the coastal waters off Hat Yai by midday on Wednesday. It carried helicopters, marine amphibious landing craft and thousands of meals to distribute to residents.
Abhisit said that relief efforts had been complicated by rapid currents in flooded areas that prevented the use of regular motorboats, but boats with bigger engines had been used to reach the troubled areas.
Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said the army, navy and air force had deployed thousands of soldiers for the rescue effort.
The deluge in Thailand's south - along a peninsula it shares with Malaysia - follows two weeks of heavy floods in October, mostly in central and north-eastern Thailand, that killed 107 people and affected nearly 6 million residents of 38 provinces.