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Floods threaten Thailand as death toll mounts

Authorities have deployed troops to help flood victims in southern Thailand, as several people died and thousands of villages were threatened by rising water levels. The unseasonably heavy rain is expected to continue.

Flash floods have affected nearly a million people across several provinces of the Asian country, its Interior Ministry said on Saturday. Several days of torrential rain caused swaths of farmland to become submerged, with water threatening villages and damaging more than 1,500 schools in Thailand's south.

At least 18 people have been killed and one is missing, the officials added.

Military forces, including helicopters, have been activated to provide flood relief, set up shelters and distribute aid.

Cha-uat district resident Bapha Suthiphanya said she was forced to leave her home after water levels rose higher than her head.

"I was so shocked and scared," the 60-year-old told the AFP news agency after spending three nights in a hastily established shelter. "I've never seen water like this and I also cannot swim."

Unseasonable rains

Thailand's Meteorological Department warned that the rainfall would continue for at least two more days.

"The situation is very bad today and tomorrow. It's still raining heavily," said meteorological official Junjuda Pornsri.

The monsoon rains are not typical during this time of the year in Thailand, which usually sees mostly dry weather between November and January. The flooding also comes during the peak tourist season, disrupting air and land travel.

At same time, a number of tourists posted photos of themselves cruising through flooded streets on pool floats and sipping their drinks. Others, like the Twitter user Rebecca Coomes, posted videos of flooded hotels and resorts.

"Some tourists are enjoying the flooding; they're taking pictures and going swimming," said Nongyao Jirundorn, a tourism official on Samui island.

Police rescued several tourists from a resort in Nakhon Si Thammarat province earlier this week, including two Finnish nationals and one German, according to "The Nation" newspaper. Neighboring Malaysia was also hit by floods earlier this week.

dj/se (AFP, dpa)

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