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Friday, 24 November, 2000, 14:52 GMT
No respite in Malaysia floods
A man at a flooded phone box in Terengganu, Malaysia
A man attempts to make a call in Terengganu, Malaysia
Torrential monsoon rains have continued to pour in parts of Malaysia and Thailand, causing severe disruptions to transport and services.

In north-east Malaysia, floods have killed at least 12 people, forced more than 8,000 people out of their homes, submerged rail and road links and disrupted communications.

Across the border in southern Thailand, the situation was also severe, with at least 11 dead.

Thousands of tourists have also been stranded in the town of Hat Yai, confined to their hotels without power or telephones.

Two boys in floodwaters in Terengganu
Two boys play in floodwaters
On Thursday night, floodwaters in the town rose half a metre, bringing water levels up to 2.5m high, the National Rescue Centre said.

Floods have badly affected several countries in the Asia-Pacific region recently, with parts of Australia, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Thailand and hit by some of the worst flooding in years.

Train services cancelled

Train services to many north-east Malaysian states were cancelled, and at least one flight to Kota Baru, the state capital of Kelantan, forced to turn back.

Car overturned in Terengganu
Dozens of cars have been swept away in Terengganu
Thousands have taken shelter in schools and community halls.

Warnings from Malaysia's meteorological department offered no respite - heavy are expected in the area until Friday afternoon.

Among the latest victims were a housewife and her eight-year-old son, in Besut, Terengganu who were electrocuted when the woman tried to repair a water pump.

Monsoon rains in the north-east normally start in mid-November and end in March.

Camps on flyover

In Hat Yai, some residents have fled their submerged homes and moved into make-shift camps on a pedestrian flyover.

One third of New South Wales in Australia is still under water
Local television showed pictures of them travelling to their homes by clinging to overhead electricity lines.

Meteorologists said the town's geographical position in a "wok-shaped" valley had led to rainwater seeping in from higher areas.

The town remains in darkness, with power cut off until waters recede.

There are fears that the disaster will damage the rubber and palm oil crops.

'La Nina' effect

The heavy rains in the region have been attributed to the "La Nina" effect.

Flooding in Vietnam
Tens of thousands are affected in Vietnam
"Unusually heavy rains over the past two years in Thailand and the rest of south-east Asia were the result of the reverse of El Nino - La Nina," Wanchai Sarathulthat, head of Thailand's Meteorological Department, told Reuters news agency.

"Several international weather forecasters expect La Nina to end in the Pacific by June." While El Nino caused warming of the Pacific Ocean off South America, La Nina has the opposite effect.

Floods have caused severe damage elsewhere in the region, forcing at least 100,000 people to leave their homes in Sri Lanka and killing dozens in Vietnam.

In Australia, more than a third of New South Wales state - where Sydney lies - has been under water.

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See also:

23 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
Floods chaos spreads
22 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
Australia battles floods chaos
20 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
Australia floods isolate thousands
30 Sep 00 | South Asia
Floods hit 20 million
16 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Heavy rains add to SE Asia floods
23 Feb 00 | Asia-Pacific
Outback towns hit by floods
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