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Pabuk: Floods and blackouts along southern Gulf coast as storm moves away

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• Floods and blackouts have left nearly 30,000 people in evacuation shelters across southern Thailand

• Relieved tourists stranded on islands further north were spared the worst and are now working on continuing their journeys

• Pabuk packed winds of up to 75 kph (45 mph) and brought heavy rains and storm surges as it lashed the much of the southern Gulf of Thailand coastline

• A fisherman drowned in southern Pattani province on Friday when waves smashed into his boat. Another crewman remains missing

Some of the headlines from the arrival in southern Thailand of tropical storm Pabuk yesterday.

After meandering just off the coast earlier yesterday, the eye of the storm made landfall later in the afternoon along the Nakhon Si Thammarat beaches. The storm continued north-west, entering into Surat Thani, but started to veer westward across the Malay Peninsula (known in Thailand as the Isthmus of Krabi). As the storm started crossing over the Peninsula it lost strength until reaching the Phang Nga coastline early Saturday and starting to head out to sea.

The track of the storm was quite easy to follow on the real-time radar maps which differed from a lot of the official forecasting which got a lot of the details wrong.

Pabuk’s track west, instead of heading in its north-west trajectory, helped the tourist islands of Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao doge a weather bullet. Large numbers of tourists were hunkered down for 24 hours in heavy rains, unable to leave as airports were closed and ferry services were cancelled.

Kittipop Roddon, the Koh Samui district chief, says,”there were no casualties, there is some sunshine today and I’m confident some tourists will be able to leave today as ferries and flights resume.”

“It’s all over. All 10,000 tourists are safe. I am relieved.”

The storm was officially downgraded early today to a tropical depression with wind speeds slackening as it moved into the Andaman Sea, according tot he Thai Meteorological Department.

According to AFP, around 200,000 people were left without power as dozens of electricity poles were toppled by high winds or falling trees, mostly along coastal areas of Nakhon Si Thammarat.

Pabuk, a rare, unseasonal tropical storm, struck in the south’s peak tourist season causing a blow to the local tourist economy.

Thailand recorded 37 million+ visitors (still awaiting the official numbers) for 2018 and is predicting over 40 million tourists for 2019 in what some describe as Thailand Teflon Tourism. Despite military coups, bombings and the tragic sinking of a tour boat last year killing 47 Chinese tourists off Phuket, the numbers of visitors continues to surge.

 

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