50,000 tourists flee Thai islands, others left stranded ahead of Tropical Storm Pabuk
Up to 50,000 thousand tourists have fled some of Thailand’s most popular islands as the country’s southern provinces prepare to be pounded by Tropical Storm Pabuk.
Earlier today, government officials announced that all ferry services to the islands from the mainland were suspended.
AFP reported that up to 50,000 tourists had left Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao by Wednesday.
Bangkok Airways and other airlines have also announced that flights had been suspended, leaving many tourists stranded with no way of leaving the islands.
Pabuk, which is set to be one of the biggest tropical storms to hit the country for more than 30 years, is expected to hit the Samui, Koh Tao and Koh Phangan on Friday night before continuing to Surat Thani and the mainland on Saturday.
While no official evacuation has been ordered, the Thai government has warned that tropical storm Pabuk is likely to cause serious widespread damage to provinces in the south, particularly Chumphon, Surat Thani, Nakhon Si Thammarat.
All southern provinces from Phetchaburi to Yala, including Phang Nga, Phuket and Krabi have been warned to expect heavy rain and strong winds from Thursday through Sunday.
“There will be heavy rainfall and we have to prepare for flooding or an impact on transportation,” Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said on Thursday.
Forecasters have said that while Pabuk is currently generating winds of up to 65mph, it is unlikely to intensify into a typhoon.
“But we expect waves as high as five or seven metres (22ft) near the eye of the storm. Normally in the Gulf of Thailand, there are only two-metre high waves,” Phuwieng Prakammaintara, director general at the Thai Meteorological Department, told reporters.
“It’s difficult to predict the severity of the storm so people should comply with authorities’ recommendations.”
Meanwhile, WorkPoint News reported on what is believed to be the first death in Thailand from Tropical Storm Pabuk.
According to the news network, a Russian man died while trying to rescue his daughter who ignored warning signs and got in difficulty swimming in strong surf.
The daughter survived, but her father failed to regain consciousness after being was swept against rocks.
Source: Thai Visa News