Thailand: Six people dead as torrential rains batter southern regions
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Thailand: Six people dead as torrential rains batter southern regions

Six people are dead after torrential rain and flooding battered the southern regions of Thailand over the last week, Channel News Asia reported.

The flooding has affected 120,000 households, according to a statement from the Interior Ministry, as well as delayed flights and disrupted tourism.

Twenty-six flights to and from the main airport in the southern province of Nakhon Si Thammarat airport were cancelled on Friday because the runway was flooded, the Department of Airports said.

This comes just weeks after flooding cost 14 lives and inundated southern tourist islands in early December.

SEE ALSO: Thailand floods kill 14, inundates southern tourist isles

Authorities on Friday said rail services have also been disrupted on the mainland with trains unable to pass through the flooded region.

The rains are unusually heavy for this time of year, with most of Thailand usually experiencing a cooler, dry period from early November – part of a three month long peak tourist season that is crucial to the economy.

Tourism is a major economic factor for Thailand with it making up an estimated 19.3 percent of the country’s GDP, according to a World Travel & Tourism Council report released last year.

The industry has remained resilient despite a 2014 coup, the death of King Maha Vajiralongkorn and subsequent mourning period, and a wave of deadly bombings in August 2016 that killed four Thai tourists and injured dozens, including foreigners.

SEE ALSO: Thailand coup: What does it mean for tourists?

The tourism ministry estimated 32.4 million visitors in 2016 with a predicted increase to 34.4 million in 2017, council president Ittirit Kinglek told Reuters.

Any damage to the industry by continued flooding could prove detrimental to a country that has struggled economically in recent years.

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha visited flooded areas on Friday to meet with flood victims and officials.

The region borders northern Malaysia, where thousands of people have been stranded in relief centres by heavy rains.

Additional reporting by Reuters