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Koh Samui flood and travel warning

March 29, 2011

Authorities in Koh Samui have started evacuating people to temples on high ground as heavy rains cause flash floods that have destroyed roads and disrupted communications.

Mayor Ramnet Chaikwang  said on Tuesday soldiers have been asked to use military boats to rescue people, especially in densely populated tolurist areas of Chaweng, Lamai and Maenam.

  Stranded foreign and Thai travellers sit next to belongings at Samui airport in the resort island of Koh Samui, Surat Thani province, southern Thailand, 28 March 2011 after flights were cancelled. . All flights were cancelled and ferry services to the tourist islands of Koh Samui, Phangan and Koh Tao were suspended as waves reached 4 metres high in the Gulf of Thailand due to the heavy rain persist in many areas over the south affecting about 38,000 families. EPA/RUNGROJ YONGRIT  Stranded foreign and Thai travellers sit next to belongings at Samui airport in the resort island of Koh Samui, Surat Thani province, southern Thailand, 28 March 2011 after flights were cancelled. . All flights were cancelled and ferry services to the tourist islands of Koh Samui, Phangan and Koh Tao were suspended as waves reached 4 metres high in the Gulf of Thailand due to the heavy rain persist in many areas over the south affecting about 38,000 families. EPA/RUNGROJ YONGRIT

He said floodwaters on parts of the tourist island have risen to waist level, making it difficult to reach and move people out of affected areas. There were power black outs in many parts of Samui.

“This flooding is the worst we have seen experienced in a decade,” Mr Ramnet said.

Flash floods had come rushing down from Samui’s hills, with two days of continual, pouring rain.  “The most important thing for us now is to evacuate people to safety,” he said.

He advised tourists to stay in their hotels until flights to the island resume.

Last night, people were seen frantically placing sandbags in hopes of preventing flood waters from entering their houses and businesses. Nonstop heavy rains and howling winds battered the island again overnight.

The mayor estimated that damage to Samui’s economy could run as high as 100 million baht a day. March and April are Samui’s peak tourist season and flight cancellations due to this storm meant lost opportunities for the island, which relies solely on tourism.

Thousands of tourists were stranded as ferry services and flights to and from Samui have been cancelled since yesterday.

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