Heavy flooding in Thailand kills 14, inundates tourist isles

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Floods in Thailand have killed 14 people and badly affected southern holiday islands as the country heads into the December-January high season for tourism, authorities said on Tuesday.

A low pressure system has brought heavy rain to parts of the south including the islands of Samui and Pha Ngan in the Gulf of Thailand, and floods have also severed the rail link to the south and Malaysia beyond.

Tourism has been a rare bright spot for an economy that has struggled to gain traction since the army seized power in a bloodless coup in 2014 to end months of political unrest.

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Deadly flooding in Thailand
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Deadly flooding in Thailand

Rescue workers search for two missing boys who went missing during a flash flood in the southern Thai province of Pattani, on December 6, 2016. Days of torrential rain and flooding have killed at least 14 people in southern Thailand, with authorities declaring much of the region a disaster zone, the government said on December 6.

(TUWAEDANIYA MERINGING/AFP/Getty Images)

People watch as rescue workers search for two missing boys who went missing during a flash flood in the southern Thai province of Pattani, on December 6, 2016. Days of torrential rain and flooding have killed at least 14 people in southern Thailand, with authorities declaring much of the region a disaster zone, the government said on December 6.

(TUWAEDANIYA MERINGING/AFP/Getty Images)

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The death on Oct. 13 of long-reigning King Bhumibol Adulyadej plunged the country into grief and also raised questions about tourist arrivals though authorities say the country is open for business despite a year of mourning.

"There has been heavier rain than usual which has caused drainage problems," Nongyao Jirundom of the state Tourism Authority of Thailand on Samui island told Reuters.

The National Disaster Warning Centre said 14 Thai people had been killed in various accidents caused by the weather in different parts of the south.

Southbound trains have been halted in the town of Thung Song in Nakhon Si Thammarat province because of flooding.

Nakhon Si Thammarat has had 447 mm of precipitation in the past 7 days, 380 mm more than the average for this time of year, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Related: Thailand's 'floating basket' festival was muted as country mourned king

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Floating basket fesitval
People release floating lanterns during the festival of Yee Peng in the northern capital of Chiang Mai, Thailand November 14, 2016. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
TOPSHOT - Novice Buddhist monks sit to pray at Wat Phan Tao temple to mark the beginning of the annual Yi Peng festival in the popular tourist city of Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand on November 13, 2016. Restrictions on festivals and celebrations around the country are beginning to ease one month after the death of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the age of 88 on October 13, as authorities try to balance national mourning with the need to capitalise on the current peak tourist season. / AFP / LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA (Photo credit should read LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA/AFP/Getty Images)
People hold up floating lanterns before they release during the festival of Yee Peng in the northern capital of Chiang Mai, Thailand November 14, 2016. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
TOPSHOT - People release thousands of paper lanterns to mark the annual Yi Peng festival in the popular tourist city of Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand on November 14, 2016. Tourist arrivals to Thailand have not been hit by a strict mourning period for late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, authorities said, as curbs on entertainment and celebration imposed since his death one month ago were eased. / AFP / LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA (Photo credit should read LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA/AFP/Getty Images)
Buddhist monks pray during the festival of Yee Peng in the northern capital of Chiang Mai, Thailand November 14, 2016. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
Floating lanterns are pictured during the festival of Yee Peng in the northern capital of Chiang Mai, Thailand November 14, 2016. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Buddhist monks hold candles during the festival of Yee Peng in the northern capital of Chiang Mai, Thailand November 14, 2016. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
People hold up floating lanterns before they release during the festival of Yee Peng in the northern capital of Chiang Mai, Thailand November 14, 2016. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
Buddhist monks pray during the festival of Yee Peng in the northern capital of Chiang Mai, Thailand November 14, 2016. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
People release floating lanterns during the festival of Yee Peng in the northern capital of Chiang Mai, Thailand November 14, 2016. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
People hold up floating lanterns before they release during the festival of Yee Peng in the northern capital of Chiang Mai, Thailand November 14, 2016. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
People release floating lanterns during the festival of Yee Peng in the northern capital of Chiang Mai, Thailand November 14, 2016. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
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December marks the beginning of the dry season when tourists descend on palm fringed beaches to celebrate the Christmas and New Year holidays.

Despite the mourning period for the late king, authorities are bullish about the outlook for tourism, which accounts for 10 percent of gross domestic product.

The tourism ministry expects a record 32.4 million arrivals this year.

Widespread floods in 2011 killed more than 900 people and caused major disruption to industry, cutting economic growth that year to just 0.1 percent.

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