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Monday, 13 August, 2001, 07:04 GMT 08:04 UK
Thailand's grim search for bodies
Villagers look at the remains of their village
The floods washed away whole villages
Rescue teams in northern Thailand are searching for bodies trapped in mud and debris following flash floods that killed at least 74 people and left 79 missing.

On Sunday a six-year-old boy was found hanging onto a clump of bamboo, more than 30 hours after the floods swept through his home.

But officials have given up hope of finding anyone else alive.


More than 110 soldiers have been searching seven villages in Phetchabun province that were destroyed before dawn on Saturday as inhabitants slept.

Many of the victims were women and children who were unable to climb to higher ground.

The boy who was rescued, Nakhin Phansaeng, was found about 3km (1.8 miles) from his house. An official in the town of Lomsak said he was swept from his house but managed to cling to floating debris and then grab hold of the bamboo.

"That bamboo was the only thing that saved him. Had he been swept further, he would not have survived," one rescuer told The Nation newspaper.

Deforestation

But officials in the district of Lom Sak said they believed the missing people were dead.

Thaksin Shinawatra
Prime Minister Shinawatra surveyed the devastation
"They [the soldiers] are searching for the dead by smelling for their bodies," said district chief Samran Boonrodreuk.

Flash floods are common during the rainy season from June to October, but this was the worst in 13 years. Correspondents say the flooding was made worse by the effects of massive deforestation.

The unseasonably wet weather has been caused by Typhoon Usagi, which has left tens of thousands of people homeless and at least three dead in neighbouring Vietnam.

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, visiting the region on Sunday, said that in future water flow routes would be identified and villages built elsewhere, to prevent a repeat of the devastation.

See also:

12 Aug 01 | Asia-Pacific
Thailand floods kill 70
22 Jul 01 | South Asia
Charities plead for India flood aid
19 Jul 01 | South Asia
One million stranded by Orissa flood
28 Jun 00 | Sci/Tech
Red Cross warns on climate
22 Feb 00 | South Asia
Oxfam attacks Indian disaster policy
05 Aug 01 | Asia-Pacific
Indonesia flood toll rises
20 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Mekong death toll rises
27 Jul 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Thailand
03 Aug 01 | Asia-Pacific
Timeline: Thailand
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