Thailand issues new weather warnings as rain hampers flood recovery

BANGKOK, Oct 17 (Reuters) - Authorities in Thailand issued flash flood warnings for eight southern provinces on Monday ahead of more rain expected this week, with areas in nearly 40% of the country’s provinces still inundated and dealing with flood waters.

The warning include the resort island of Phuket, where a flash flood on Sunday disrupted local transport and tourism businesses in some areas. Navy personnel in the island’s main town were seen carrying elderly on their backs through streets, knee-deep in brown water.

Heavy rain and tropical storms since last month have caused flooding in 59 of Thailand’s 77 provinces, impacting 450,000 homes, according to the interior ministry.

Floods in northeastern and central Thailand - key farming regions - have seen 670,000 rai (107,200 hectares) of agricultural land damaged, the agriculture ministry said last week.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has instructed authorities nationwide to deploy boats and vehicles to help reconnect people cut off by floods and provide assistance where possible.

The cabinet last week has set aside 23 billion baht ($602.09 million) budget for assistance and flood rehabilitation.

In neighbouring Malaysia, authorities issued rain warnings for Sabah, Sarawak Labuan on Borneo island owing to the Nesat tropical storm. ($1 = 38.2000 baht) (Reporting by Panu Wongcha-um and Panarat Thepgumpanat in Bangkok and Rozanna Latiff in Kuala Lumpur; Editing by Martin Petty)