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Phuket lashed by storm, flash floods

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket lashed by storm, flash floods | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Driving rain and strong winds continue to lash Phuket today as small flash floods blocked roads this morning, causing long traffic tailbacks across the island.

In the 24 hours preceding 7am, the weather monitoring station in Phuket Town recorded 58.8mm of rainfall, while the monitoring station at Phuket International Airport recorded 56.0mm.

The Thai Meteorological Department (TMD) has issued a flash flood and landslide warning for Phuket, Krabi and Ranong provinces.

Yesterday, thousands of people were evacuated from flood-struck areas in Ranong, while Krabi last night recorded a monster rainfall of 98.0mm.

Traffic in Chalong this morning was diverted as water blocked the road in front of the HomePro Shopping Village. Water across the road in front of the TOT office further north caused more tailbacks.

Chalong Mayor Samran Jindapol told the Phuket Gazette today that his team were focusing on draining water from the road in front of the electricity substation on Chao Fa East Road.

“The water across the road was about 20 centimeters deep. Cars can pass, but we have to be careful. Also, a big tree fell at Chalong Temple. I assigned our team to take care of that as well,” he said.

Power fluctuations continue across the island as emergency crews work to remove fallen trees and branches from overhead power cables.

All small boats are urged to stay ashore as winds whip up waves to three meters in height.

Winds wreaked havoc across Phuket yesterday, blowing down billboards, some of them onto houses.

Emergency workers were called to the Nok Yoong Karaoke (“Flame tree” karaoke) after a large flame tree fell onto power cables and then onto the shop. Power supply to the area was shut down so workers could safely cut away the tree and repair the cables.

About 500 meters away from the Nok Yoong Karaoke on Phra Barami Road, leading up to Patong Hill, a billboard fell onto the house of Ms Sudarat Thongtem, 30.

Ms Sudarat’s mother, Sukon Keeratitaranurak, told the Gazette, “The house was damaged, but luckily nobody was hurt.”

“The company who owns the billboard has contacted their insurance to take care of the damage,” she added.

A further 200 meters away, Wichai Na Nakorn watched as a marquee used to cover his Wichai Used Cars collection blew down, trapping three men underneath.

“The tent was two months old. I was afraid the roof would fall onto the cars, so I asked my men to move the cars out from under it.

“As soon as the cars were moved, the tent collapsed. Three men were stuck inside, but nobody was hurt,” he said.

In Patong, a concerned Patong Hospital Director Dr Phumin Silaphan this morning told the Gazette that his staff were carefully monitoring the rising waters in front of the hospital.

Last year, the hospital generator room flooded, prompting the evacuation of 40 inpatients from the building as a precaution.

This morning, Dr Phumin reported that the road in front of the hospital was covered with water ranging from 20cm to 50cm deep, for about 500 meters along the road.

“We are now monitoring the flood situation. Generally, we are okay. The only problem is that it is not very easy to access the hospital,” Dr Phumin said.

“It looks like the water level is receding. However, we will keep our eyes on it,” he added.

— Kritsada Mueanhawong

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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Crime

Phuket police arrest meth dealer, discover drugs valued at 15 million baht

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Phuket police arrest meth dealer, discover drugs valued at 15 million baht | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Newshawk Phuket

Drugs valued at 15 million baht have been seized in a drug crackdown in Phuket. On October 22, Phuket police, along with Phuket Governor Pakkapong Tawipat, reported to the media about a drug crackdown that ended up with a total seizure valued around 15 million baht.

Earlier, the police received a report from an undercover agent that a woman named ‘Ying’ or ‘Suthicha Thirawut’ was a local drug dealer trading drugs in Phuket area, so police planned to purchase drugs from the woman. They contacted Ying through another woman named ‘Noina’, Ying’s close friend. Around 10pm on October 20, police bought 1 gram of crystal methamphetamine from Noina before arresting Ying and another man, Thanet Thongtan, at the Naka Condominium.

The two confessed that they receive the drug from a man who they weren’t able to name, in order to sell in Phuket. They were paid 40,000 – 50,000 baht per time and admitted to police that they have done this for the man three times already. This time, the drugs hadn’t been sold to customers as they were arrested before being able to make a sale.

Apart from 2.4 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine, valued around 4.8 million baht, the police also discovered 76,800 methamphetamine pills, worth around 11 million baht.

The three are now assisting Phuket police with their enquires related to the case.

SOURCE: Newshawk Phuket

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News

30 dolphins greet visitors to Similan Islands

Greeley Pulitzer

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30 dolphins greet visitors to Similan Islands | The Thaiger

Tourists were treated to the sight of a school of dolphins in the Similan Islands off the Phang Nga coast on Sunday.

Tour organisers said that around 30 dolphins swam close to the boat six or seven miles offshore, creating excitement for passengers. It was the first time dolphins had been seen in the vicinity since October 15.

The Similan Islands National Park director said they were bottlenose dolphins and were among several species now returning to the area following a five-year closure of the park for environmental rehabilitation. Food is again plentiful there for them, he said.

Tourists are forbidden to feed wildlife lest the free handouts alter the animals’ natural behaviour, and the park’s waters are also very sensitive to contamination from human disease and marine debris, according to the director.

SOURCE: nationthailand.com

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Patong

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms

The Thaiger

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Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | The Thaiger

by Sophie Deviller

Hotels on Thailand’s most popular holiday island are being forced to slash prices, with rooms left vacant and beaches sparse as Thailand’s tourism chiefs struggle with a plunge in Chinese visitors caused by the US trade war and a stronger baht. Phuket was the most visited destination in the country last year, after Bangkok, and a good gauge of the state of its crucial travel industry.

Tourism accounts for 18% of Thailand’s gross domestic product and Chinese holidaymakers make up more than a quarter of total arrivals. But while 2.2 million people from the country visited in 2018, according to official figures, the numbers for January-September were down almost 20% year on year.

Claude de Crissey, the French Honorary Consul in Phuket and owner of about 40 rooms in the Patong Beach area, says Chinese tourists are usually present even during the current low season.

“That was not the case this year,” he said, adding he had to lower his prices by as much as 50%.

The problem is not only in Phuket, with hotels also struggling to fill rooms in the seaside resort of Pattaya on the mainland and on Koh Samui.

Trade tensions with the US have already made some Chinese reluctant to take holidays owing to uncertainty back home, while the Thai baht has risen about 10% against the yuan this year.

A boating disaster off Phuket’s coast that killed 47 Chinese holidaymakers in July 2018 also scared some off.

“We are worried,” said an industry insider, declining to be named due to the sensitivity of the topic in a country where tourism provides tens of thousands of jobs. Adding to the headache is the fact that more than 3,000 new hotel rooms are being constructed on the island, raising the question of who will fill them.

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | News by The Thaiger

“In terms of business, it’s not good,” said Kongsak Khoopongsakorn, vice-president of the association of hotels in Thailand and director of Vijitt Resort.

“Because … we have more hotels, more rooms to sell, we have more restaurants, more coffee shops.”

Still, tourism authority chairman Yuthasak Supasorn said he remained “optimistic.”

“We should reach our goal of 39.8 million foreign visitors.”

However, that is only up from 38.2 million in 2018, much less than the jump seen from the previous year’s total of 35.6 million.

Counting on India

Now hoteliers and tour package operators are targeting visitors from elsewhere, particularly India, which experts see as a huge untapped market.

A rapid expansion of the middle class in India, increased direct flights and visa-free travel have prompted Thailand to revise forecasts upwards.

It now expects two million Indian tourists this year, after an increase of nearly 25% on-year in the first seven months. But for now, the lower arrivals is evident on the streets of Phuket.

“I’ve never seen anything as bad as what it is at the moment,” said Paul Scott from Australia, who said he has been coming to Thailand for 15 years.

He mainly blamed the stronger baht for the drop-off but also the fact that Thailand wasn’t the untouched vacation paradise it once was. “Now it’s not so new … and it’s not cheap,” he said.

SOURCE: AFP

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | News by The Thaiger

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