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Final death toll could exceed 2,000

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BANGKOK: More than 700 foreign tourists are believed to have died when tidal waves smashed into southern Thailand on Sunday, the deputy interior minister said this morning.

“The latest figure we have is more than 990 confirmed deaths. Of these, some 200 were Thais and the rest were foreigners,” Sutham Sangprathum told reporters before a cabinet meeting on the disaster.

“But from what I have witnessed, more deaths will be reported,” he said.

Other officials on the ground had earlier estimated that about one-third of the victims were foreigners.

Sutham estimated that the final death toll could surpass 2,000 in six southern provinces.

He said the worst-hit area was Khao Lak in Phang-nga province, where he estimated that more than 1,000 people had died and 80 percent of the area suffered damage.

Sutham said the second worst-hit area was Phi Phi Island east of Phuket, with up to 70 percent of the island severely damaged.

He said rescue operations today would focus on recovering bodies and tracing the missing. Yesterday, the focus was on helping survivors.

 

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