Floods and blackouts caused by Tropical Storm Pabuk left nearly 30,000 people in evacuation shelters across southern Thailand yesterday as relieved tourists stranded on islands further north were spared the worst and began to plot routes home.
Pabuk, a once in three-decades weather system, packed winds of up to 75kph, and brought heavy rains and storm surges as it lashed the entire south of the kingdom on Friday, downing power cables and causing widespread flooding.
A fisherman died in southern Pattani Province early on Friday as high waves smashed into his boat and another crew member was reported missing.
However, the storm tacked away from the tourist islands of Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao, where large numbers of tourists hunkered down for 24 hours in heavy rains, unable to leave as airports closed and ferry services were canceled.
“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,” Koh Samui district head Kittipop Roddon said.
However, “red flag” warnings banning swimming off what are normally sun-baked beaches at this time of year were still in place.
“It’s all over. All 10,000 tourists are safe... I am relieved,” said Krikkrai Songthanee, district head of neighbouring Koh Phangan, an island famed for its full-moon parties.
Only minor damage had been caused by high winds, Songthanee said.
Holidaymakers keen to leave the islands face long delays as transport links are slowly reopened.
The storm was downgraded early yesterday to a tropical depression with wind speeds slackening as it moved into the Andaman Sea, the Thai Meteorological Department said.
Pabuk made landfall on Friday afternoon in Nakhon Si Thammarat Province, south of the tourist hubs on the Gulf of Thailand, hammering the coastal province with rain.
Authorities warned of flash floods as some parts remained inundated by a combination of rainfall and storm surges.
About 200,000 people were left without power as dozens of electricity poles were toppled by high winds or falling trees.
About 30,000 customers remained without power early yesterday, according to an update by the Thai Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department.
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