Tropical Storm Pabuk lashes Thailand with heavy rain, high winds during peak tourism season

07-Jan-2019 Intellasia | USA Today | 6:00 AM Print This Post

Rain, wind and surging seawater from a tropical storm buffeted coastal villages and world-famous tourist resorts on southern Thailand’s east coast on Friday, knocking down trees and utility poles and flooding roads.

One person was reported dead and another missing after a fishing boat with a crew of six capsized in high waves, but there were no reports of major damage by nightfall. It appeared that Tropical Storm Pabuk caused aggravation during the country’s high tourist season but less damage than had been feared.

Airlines and boat operators suspended operations for safety reasons and tourists were forced to change travel plans.

Beaches were closed, but even with the bad weather approaching, tourists on the popular island of Koh Samui in the Gulf of Thailand continued to patronise bars and restaurants catering to them.

Trees and utility poles were leveled and city streets and country roads flooded on Friday as rain, winds and surging seawater from Tropical Storm Pabuk hit coastal villages and world-famous tourist resorts on southern Thailand's east coast.(AP)

Trees and utility poles were leveled and city streets and country roads flooded on Friday as rain, winds and surging seawater from Tropical Storm Pabuk hit coastal villages and world-famous tourist resorts on southern Thailand’s east coast.(AP)

That was good fortune for the tourism industry, whose safety problems were highlighted last July when 47 Chinese tourists drowned after their boat sank in rough seas near the popular resort of Phuket.

Ahead of this week’s storm, more than 6,100 people in four provinces were evacuated, according to the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation.

The Thai Meteorological Department said the storm had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph at late afternoon, down from 47 mph when it hit land shortly after noon. The department said this was the first tropical storm to make landfall in Thailand in January since accurate records began in 1951.

It continued to warn of strong winds and waves 10 to 16 feet high in the Gulf of Thailand and 6 to 10 feet in the Andaman Sea. It advised all ships to stay ashore through Saturday and warned of possible storm surges on the Gulf coast.

“We can expect heavy rain and downpours, flooding and flash floods in the area throughout the night,” department director-General Phuwieng Prakhammintara said.

Evacuation efforts were especially intense in Nakhon Si Thammarat province, about 480 miles south of Bangkok, where authorities sent trucks through flooded streets with downed power lines, urging people in danger zones to leave.

It continued to warn of strong winds and waves 10 to 16 feet high in the Gulf of Thailand and 6 to 10 feet in the Andaman Sea. It advised all ships to stay ashore through Saturday and warned of possible storm surges on the Gulf coast.

“We can expect heavy rain and downpours, flooding and flash floods in the area throughout the night,” department director-General Phuwieng Prakhammintara said.

Evacuation efforts were especially intense in Nakhon Si Thammarat province, about 480 miles south of Bangkok, where authorities sent trucks through flooded streets with downed power lines, urging people in danger zones to leave.

It continued to warn of strong winds and waves 10 to 16 feet high in the Gulf of Thailand and 6 to 10 feet in the Andaman Sea. It advised all ships to stay ashore through Saturday and warned of possible storm surges on the Gulf coast.

“We can expect heavy rain and downpours, flooding and flash floods in the area throughout the night,” department director-General Phuwieng Prakhammintara said.

Evacuation efforts were especially intense in Nakhon Si Thammarat province, about 480 miles south of Bangkok, where authorities sent trucks through flooded streets with downed power lines, urging people in danger zones to leave.

“You cannot stay here. It’s too dangerous,” they repeated from truck-mounted loudspeakers.

Koh Samui appeared to have been spared much of the brunt of the storm.

Rain there stopped by Friday evening, said Joe Kieta, and American visitor, “so it seems like the worst is past us.”

Kieta, editor of California’s Fresno Bee newspaper, said in an email that roads on the island had light debris, his hotel’s beach area was closed and guests were discouraged from going out.

Southern Thailand also has popular resort destinations on its west coast on the Andaman Sea, and they now await the storm.

The navy said Thailand’s sole aircraft carrier, the HTMS Chakri Naruebet, was on standby at its base east of Bangkok, prepared to sail to help with relief efforts at a moment’s notice.

There had been fears that the storm would be the worst to hit Thailand since 1989, when Typhoon Gay left more than 400 people dead. A tropical storm in 1962 killed more than 900 people in the south.

The country typically experiences about 3 to 4 tropical cyclones each year, usually as weaker tropical depressions after first hitting Vietnam, the Weather Channel reported.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2019/01/04/thailand-tropical-storm-asian-nation-braces-during-peak-tourism-time/2480363002/

 


Tags:

Category: Thailand

Print This Post