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Thailand counts the cost in flood tragedy.

Officials in Thailand used dogs and heavy machinery yesterday in the grim search for further victims of a flash flood in the north of the country that claimed at least 60 lives.

Scores of people were unaccounted for after a pre-dawn flash flood swept down a mountainside through villages in the Lomsak district of Phetchabun province, 180 miles north of Bangkok.

The tragedy occurred as heavy rains caused flooding in many parts of the country. 'We retrieved 10 more bodies and several more have been spotted, but we are still unable to pull them out because of the presence of heavy logs, wood and tons of dirt,' said Promchai Chaiwongnoi, a senior district official.

A total of 58 bodies had been recovered and identified, he said, adding that 71 people were on a list of the missing, some presumed dead. Promchai said at least 300 houses were washed away by the water and nearly 7,000 people made homeless.

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra toured the scene yesterday with senior officials and promised aid for the victims. He said the government would use advanced technology such as remote sensors to prevent such tragedies in the future. The heavy rains, caused by Typhoon Usagi, yesterday shifted to northern provinces such as Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Mae Hong Son, Lampang, Phitsanulok and Phrae. The tragedy marred celebrations of Thai Queen Sirikit's 69th birthday yesterday. Her birthday is being marked by today's gala world premiere of the most expensive Thai movie ever made, a historical epic called Suriyothai.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Aug 13, 2001
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