BANGKOK - SEVERE flooding in Thailand has left 181 people dead over the past month, the authorities said on Tuesday.

The government estimates that 7.8 million people have been affected, mainly in the north-east and south, with homes submerged and farmland damaged in what Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has described as 'a huge natural calamity'.

Fifty-one of Thailand's 76 provinces have been hit but the waters have now subsided in many areas, officials said.

In southern Songkhla province, where waters several metres high in places swept through the major city of Hat Yai last week, 26 people were killed.

Thousands of soldiers were dispatched to the area to help people stranded in their homes in the city of more than 150,000 people, popular with tourists from Singapore and Malaysia.

Bangkok has been on standby but has so far avoided major flooding.

Thai floods leave 181 dead