Bangkok, Thailand (CNN) -- Thai Airways stepped up its efforts to evacuate stranded tourists Thursday after deadly flash floods swept through eight provinces in southern Thailand.
The airline has added what it calls special flights to help get people out of the area, said Piyasvasti Amranand, Thai Airways president.
There were conflicting reports on the number of people who were killed in the floods. The Ministry of Public Health said 20 people were killed. The Interior Ministry said 21 were killed.
The flooding has affected more than 716,000 people, the country's disaster prevention agency said.
Villagers in one province, Krabi, have been asked to take shelter at temples or other areas, said a local official, Sombat Morakot.
"It rained severely in last couple of days," he said. "I have never seen something like this before. And when it rained, it flushed soil and logs down to villages."
Surat Thani, the largest of the southern provinces, has received at least 855 mm (34 inches) of rain since Saturday. The area typically gets 51 mm (2 inches) of rain during March.
Rain was expected to continue in the area but begin to lighten, the Thai Meteorological Department said.