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Search Continues for Thailand Flood Victims - 2001-08-14


In Thailand, the search continues for more than 30 people still missing from Saturday's floods that killed at least 70 people and made thousands homeless. Thai officials have been visiting the devastated area promising aid.

Rescue workers in northern Thailand Tuesday continued to search for missing people although officials privately said there was little hope of finding any more survivors alive. Emergency crews began using heavy equipment to clear debris from the flash floods that washed down the mountains before dawn Saturday, sweeping away homes and blocking roads after several days of heavy rainfall.

Authorities say some 300 homes were destroyed and thousands of people are homeless. The floods also washed out roads, isolating parts of the region. Officials blame deforestation for a great deal of the damage.

Deputy Agriculture Minister Prapat Panyachadrak told reporters the Thai government wants to set up an early warning center in the area. Mr. Panyachadrak says satellite information should be used to warn residents and tell them how to help children and the elderly to a safe place.

But for now, Deputy Defense Minister Yuthasak Sasiprapa suggests the Thai military could help reconstruction in the devastated region. General Sasiprapa says the military could help build new homes and roads and save 20 percent over the costs of private contractors.

The pledges come one day after Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra visited the area and promised government aid to the victims.

Tropical storm Usagi swept through southeast Asia over the weekend, causing flooding in a score of provinces in northern and northeastern Thailand. It also caused several deaths and millions of dollars worth of damage in the Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia.