Burmese migrants are among nearly one million people thought to have been hit by heavy floods in southern Thailand which have so far claimed 15 lives.
Eight provinces in the country’s south, including popular tourist islands like Koh Tao, have been affected, with some 400,000 houses thought to have been damaged.
Thousands of Burmese migrants work in low-skilled industries in Thailand, many in the south. “We have been unable to get to work for some time now; over 10 days already,” said one man, who ekes out a living in a rubber plantation in Phang Nga province. “The rain never stopped – it’s still falling, causing the floods.”
Thailand’s meterological department announced yesterday that there would be another heavy storm in two days, which could cause waves of up to three metres at sea.
Another Burmese national in Hat Yai, close to the Malaysia border, said however that he had no heard of any casualities among Burmese, although it had been raining solidly for three days.
According to 2011 statistics, there are more than two million Burmese migrant workers in Thailand, including 100,000 in southern Thailand’s Phang Nga and Phuket who work on rubber plantations, and the fishing and hotelier industry.
Despite their close proximity, there has been no similar flooding in Burma’s southern Tenasserim division, although heavy rain has been reported.
Burmese were among the 5,400 that died in Thailand after the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami in December 2004.