More than 100 people were feared dead Wednesday as searchers recovered corpses from a sea of mud spawned by flash floods in northern Thailand, local officials said.
Rescue teams in helicopters or on foot tried to reach thousands of people stranded in their houses, on trains and in open terrain devastated by floods from days of heavy rain across several northern provinces.
Local officials said Tuesday that about 50 bodies had been recovered in three provinces. But Boonriang Chuchai-saengrat, chief health officer of Uttaradit province, said Wednesday more than 100 had perished in his province alone.
He appealed to government authorities to set up a disaster identification center like one established following the Asian tsunami to record unclaimed bodies and temporarily bury corpses for identification later.
“The search and rescue operation was suspended last night due to low light and will resume today once the sun rises. I hope to have a clearer number of the dead,” said Saman Pangwatcharakorn chief of the regional Disaster Prevention and Rescue Center early Wednesday.
Tens of thousands of households had no power.
One of the hardest hit areas was Lablae district of Uttaradit province where dozens of houses were engulfed in mud, their residents trapped within. Others were stranded on the roofs of their houses or in trees.
Uttaradit is about 280 miles north of Bangkok.
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was scheduled to inspect the disaster scene Wednesday.