Saturday, 24 August, 2019

Thailand storm: Pabuk kills one as thousands flee tourist hotspots

Thousands of tourists flee Thai islands ahead of Tropical Storm Pabuk Thai supermarkets run out of food as Tropical Storm Pabuk looms
Patty Aguilar | 04 January, 2019, 17:16

Rain falls on the Anthong Hills as tropical storm Pabuk approaches Koh Samui, Thailand, January 4, 2019, in this still image taken from a video obtained from social media.

They hadn't been too badly affected by the storm, as their hotel had a generator for the intermittent power outages and there was plenty of water and food available, Lynne Davis said.

Islands in the Gulf of Thailand such as Koh Phangnan, Koh Samui and Koh Tao are extremely popular with western tourists.

Looi said Pabuk has been described as "unusual" because it is "taking place outside of the monsoon season for this part of the world", noting that the last time something like this happened in Thailand was three decades ago.

While torrential rain and strong winds are expected to affect more than a dozen other provinces, Nakon Si Thammarat and Surat Thani, home to the tourist islands of Koh Samui, Koh Tao and Koh Phangan, are expected to be the hardest hit.

During the past few days, 6,176 people have been evacuated to shelters from Nakhon Si Thammarat as well as the provinces of Pattani, Songkhla and Yala, the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation has said.

Tropical storm Pabuk is expected to bring waves up to five metres (16ft) high, gale force winds of almost 50mph and torrential downpours, according to the Thai Met Office.

The Nakhon Si Thammarat airport said it had closed, and low-priced Nok Airlines Pcl said it had cancelled all eight flights to and from the province.

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On Koh Samui, beach guards hoisted red flags to warn people to stay out of the sea.

Bangkok Airways cancelled all flights to and from popular holiday destination Koh Samui.

The Meteorological Department said the storm had maximum sustained winds of 65kph at late afternoon, down from 75kph when it hit land shortly after noon (6pm Friday, NZ time).

The Foreign Office has advised United Kingdom nationals against all but essential travel to provinces on the Thailand-Malaysia border, including areas such as Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat.

Southern Vietnam also was expecting heavy rain and strong winds in the Mekong Delta, the country's major area for rice and aquaculture production.

"People should beware of the severe conditions that cause forest runoffs and flash floods".

In Nakhon Si Thammarat's Pak Phanang district, where the storm later made landfall, a father and a son rushed off with their belongings on their pickup truck, quickly telling reporters the roof of their house was already damaged.

Looi said that more than 2,000 workers on offshore rigs have been evacuated as a precautionary measure.

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