At least 12 people died overnight in Thailand as unusually cold weather gripped the semi-tropical Southeast Asian nation, officials said Wednesday.

The deaths were caused either by exposure or respiratory illnesses, an official from the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation told the DPA news agency.

Two other people died earlier in Chai Nat province, also related to the drop in temperature.

A cold front has swept through Thailand, sending temperatures below 5 degrees Celsius in some areas, more than 10C less than the average low for this time of year.

A high-pressure front has also caused flooding and high storm surges in the country's south, with more than 3,000 households affected, according to the department.

Severe weather warnings were issued in several northeastern provinces and the military government provided local residents with aid, including jackets and food.

Much of the rest of Asia was also shivering.

In Hong Kong, the mercury dipped to its lowest point in six decades. The rest of southern China also recorded unusually cold weather, with record-breaking low temperatures in many places.

In Japan, the unusual cold spell brought sleet as far south as Okinawa, a subtropical island known for its mild winters. Another southern island, Amami Oshima, recorded its first snow in more than a century.

 Cold weather snap kills dozens in Eastern Asia

Source: Agencies