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Death Toll Climbs in Thailand Flash Flooding - 2001-08-12

The death toll from a flash flood in northern Thailand continues to rise as rescuers search through debris and mud in the hope of finding survivors. Sixty-six people are reported dead with more than 60 people missing in northern Thailand.

Rescue workers continued the search in the Thai province of Phetchabun - 300 kilometers north of Bangkok. They are carrying out the grim task of recovering bodies after a flash flood early Saturday carved a swath of destruction.

Dogs were called in to assist in the rescue and clean up efforts amid piles of timber. Local news reports said at least 200 homes had been swept away in a village in Lom Sak district.

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra visited the devastated areas and ordered key ministries and the Thai Army to help rescuers. He also ordered efforts to reduce deforestation to be stepped up.

Villagers said when the storm hit Phetchabun early Saturday torrents of water swept down deforested mountains into towns with a sound like that of an elephant screaming.

Massive logs were smashed into homes while those families lucky enough to scramble to the safety of trees held on for dear life. Other families said they managed to awaken households only to watch in horror as mothers and children were swept away.

The storms were triggered by typhoon Usagi, which left tens of thousands homeless across Vietnam and Laos before reaching Thailand.