The government says nearly one million people in eight southern provinces have been affected by the floods [Reuters]

At least 40 people have been killed and thousands forced to flee homes after more than a week of heavy rains caused flooding and mudslides in Southern Thailand.

The government disaster agency says nearly one million people in eight southern provinces have been affected by the floods and officials have warned those in affected hillside areas to be on alert for more mudslides.

Abhisit Vejjajiva, the prime minister, said on Sunday that while the rains have eased, waterlogged soil remained a concern.

"People should cooperate with the authorities when there are warnings. Do not think it will never happen," he said in his weekly television programme, speaking live from flood-stricken Surat Thani province.

He said the government would discuss assistance for people affected by the floods at a cabinet meeting on Monday.

Vittayen Muttamara, flood relief center official, said on Friday that flood runoff from the mountains could still inundate villages.

He said access to some villages by land remained difficult because of damage to roads and bridges, but rescue workers were able to reach them by helicopter.

The state news agency TNA quoted Chinnaworn Boonyakiat, the education minister, saying more than 1,246 schools suffered damage.

The rains - in what is usually one of the hottest months - have caused floods in 10 of Thailand's 77 provinces, submerging homes, triggering landslides and washing away roads and bridges.

The new disaster comes just months after devastating flooding across Thailand late last year which left more than 200 people dead.

Source: Agencies