Flooding disrupts transit, spoils holidays in south Thailand

A man drives a motorbike vending cart on a road flooded by an overflowing lake on Ko Samui, Thailand Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017. Heavy rains battering parts of Thailand are causing localized flooding on the resort island during a peak tourist season. (AP Photo/Adam Schreck)
A woman looks at an overflowing lake on Ko Samui, Thailand Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017. Heavy rains battering parts of Thailand are causing localized flooding on the resort island during a peak tourist season. (AP Photo/Adam Schreck)
Riders use a road flooded by an overflowing lake on Ko Samui, Thailand Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017. Heavy rains battering parts of Thailand are causing localized flooding on the resort island during a peak tourist season. (AP Photo/Adam Schreck)
Tourists wear flotation devices and moped riders pause before crossing a flooded roadway on Ko Samui, Thailand Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017. Heavy rains battering parts of Thailand are causing localized flooding on the resort island during a peak tourist season. (AP Photo/Adam Schreck)

KOH SAMUI, Thailand — Flooding in southern Thailand has killed at least five people, disrupted transportation and spoiled tourists' holidays at one of the country's most popular resort islands.

An Interior Ministry report said eight southern provinces have been flooded by heavy rains that began Sunday. It said three people had died, and the state broadcaster MCOT reported that two more, a mother and child, were found dead Thursday morning in a submerged vehicle.

Rail service was cut at several points, as were some roads, leading to the suspension of six long-distance bus routes from Bangkok. A hospital in Chumporn province evacuated some of its patients on Thursday when floodwaters entered it, reported the newspaper Thai Rath. According to the Public Health Ministry, personnel are on 24-hour alert to evacuate patients of other hospitals in the region should they also be flooded.

Flooding on the resort island of Samui in the Gulf of Thailand snarled traffic and delayed flights to and from the popular tourist destination. Residents and visitors in cars and on motorbikes struggled to pass roads intermittently flooded with water at points more than a foot deep, some of the vehicles stalling midway through.

Some hotels put sandbags in front of their entrances to keep out the rising waters, and local authorities used rowboats to help pedestrians cross flooded areas.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha will travel Friday to the southern province of Narathiwat to address flood victims.

Thailand's Meteorological Department forecasts more heavy rain and scattered thundershowers next week for southern Thailand.

The northeastern provinces of Malaysia, bordering southern Thailand, have also suffered serious flooding since the beginning of the year.

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