Tourists in desperate rush for flights off Samui

Hundreds of holidaymakers scrambled for tickets for lights off the flood-hit island of Samui in Thailand.

Travel Insurance News - 31/03/2011

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Samui, an island holiday hotspot in southern Thailand, was the scene of a scramble for air tickets as stranded tourists tried to escape the scenes of desperation wrought by days of torrential rain. The disastrous rainfall and high winds that lashed much of southern Thailand this week left communities cut off, tourists stranded and scenes of devastation as flooding and mudslides hit both coasts, multiple islands and inland areas.

In total, some 44 districts of several provinces to the north of Thailand’s border with Malaysia were left under landslide and flood warnings. The death toll has risen to at least 13.

HMTS Chakri Naruebet, a small aircraft carrier Thailand bought from Spain in the 1990s, returned to its home port at Sattahip navy base after having rescued some 750 stranded tourists from several islands in the Gulf of Thailand. The vessel, the flagship in the Royal Thai Navy, was acquired after a similar disaster in 1991 highlighted the inability of Thailand’s existing rescue services to deal with heavy weather.

Even as the Chakri Naruebet and another ship, the HMTS Chao Phraya, were picking up a total of more than 1,200 tourists from various islands, tourists left behind on Samui island desperately sought air tickets, following reports that two flights had departed the island for Bangkok.

Flights from several islands in the area have been halted over the last few days and ferries were unable to put to sea as a low-pressure system lashed the region with high winds and heavy rain. Thousands of tourists remain stuck on Samui. Bangkok Airways says some 2,100 travellers have been unable to board flights in the last three days.

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