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The one-kilometre long tangle of trash was first spotted off of southern Chumpon province. Pix courtesy of 1st Naval Area Command and Noppadon Thintaeb.

BANGKOK: Thai authorities are trying to clean up a massive, one-kilometre long tangle of trash, officials said Friday, calling it the largest garbage heap to float through the kingdom's waters.

The mass of debris is estimated to weigh some 300 tonnes, said Sopon Thongdee, deputy director of Thailand's Marine and Coastal Resources Department.

"In all my working life I've never seen an amount of garbage this huge," he told AFP, adding that it was first spotted off of southern Chumpon province and has since floated north.

Authorities believe much of the detritus was carried into the ocean by floods that swept through Thailand's south in Jan.

Four ships have been mobilised to retrieve the trash - a task made more difficult as the cluster began to break off into smaller chunks on Friday, said Sopon.

Thailand is one of the world's top consumers of plastic bags and a major contributor to ocean waste.

In a recent report, US-based advocacy group Ocean Conservancy estimated that Thailand is one of just five countries responsible for as much as 60 per cent of plastic waste dumped into the ocean.

The other nations are China, Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam. --AFP

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