Prime Minister Chatichai Choonha-van said Monday that 429 bodies were recovered from storm-ravaged villages of southern Thailand in the country's worst natural disaster in decades.
"We need aid from foreign countries," he said after an emergency Cabinet meeting. The United States and Britain provided initial assistance Monday with relief checks totaling $43,400.Floods and mudslides from a week of heavy rains starting Nov. 19 struck 12 southern provinces. Dozens of people are still buried in the mud, Chatichai said.
More than 380 people are still missing and 2,050 others were injured, said Maj. Gen. Kitti Rattana-chaya, deputy commander of the Fourth Army Region in the south.
The same weather system that battered southern Thailand moved through Malaysia a few days earlier, killing 31 people and forcing tens of thousands from their homes.
Chatichai said the flooding and mudslides affected about 600,000 people, destroyed 7,000 houses and caused $120 million in damage.
Kitti said 16 helicopters were dropping food and medicine to isolated villages. Hundreds of troopers were sent to clear routes to transport emergency supplies to the villages, he said.
Meanwhile, shelling along the Thailand-Cambodian border has forced 5,000 Cambodian refugees back to a U.N.-sponsored camp from which they had been forcibly moved by communist Khmer Rouge guerrillas, a Thai official said Monday.
International aid officials on the Thai-Cambodian border said one report claimed there were hundreds of casualties, but that report could not be confirmed. No casualties have been taken to internationally-aided medical facilities, the officials said.
The shelling is believed to have come from Vietnamese forces occupying Cambodia or forces of the Vietnamese-installed government in that country.
The refugees fled the Khao Phlu area, in Thailand's eastern Trat province about 31/2 miles from the Cambodian border, after the artillery and rocket attacks peaked Nov. 15-19, said a Thai military officer who requested anonymity.
They fled back to Ta Luan, a camp several miles west from which the Khmer Rouge had forcibly moved them, Thai military officers said.
From Nov. 16-19, 249 artillery rounds crashed into the area, said an officer of the Eastern Chantaburi-Trat Field Force.
Reporters visiting the Trat border last week could hear the sporadic boom of shelling in the jungled hills. Thai officers said Monday the shelling had ended.
The Khmer Rouge, the largest guerrilla group fighting the Vietnamese, moved the population from Ta Luan from June to September, leaving behind 1,000-2,000 disabled, elderly or sick people.