Tropical storm to bring rain, high seas to southern Thailand

Sunday, 06 Jan, 2019

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is in contact with a group of Bulgarian tourists on the island of Koh Samui.

Supermarkets are running out of food and necessities on some of Thailand's most popular resorts ahead of a tropical storm that has forced thousands to flee the holiday islands for the mainland. "It's too unsafe", officials said from a truck fitted with loudspeakers.

An Auckland couple is trapped on a Thai island as a tropical storm bears down on the Southeast Asian nation. "We can do nothing now but wait and hope that it is not too bad".

It is highly unusual for tropical storms and typhoons to make landfall in Thailand.

The acting mayor of Koh Tao, one of Southeast Asia's finest diving spots, said boats to Chumphon on the mainland were crammed with tourists, but several thousand guests were still on the island likely to fearless the storm.

On the island of Koh Samui, where the suspension of air and ferry services had trapped many visitors, lines were long Saturday for rides back to the mainland.

"It's very empty. the beaches are deserted of tourists", Pui Suriwan, a Koh Phangan resident, told AFP. About 15,000 and 4,000 tourists remained on Koh Tao and Koh Phangan respectively. According to The Guardian, this is the first time a tropical storm has hit Thailand outside of monsoon season in 30 years.

A fisherman died in southern Pattani province early Friday after high waves smashed into his boat and another crew member was reported missing, while a 35-year-old man in Nakhon Si Thammarat died when a tree toppled onto his house. Songkhla province evacuated hundreds of residents in risk-prone areas. Judging by the direction of the wind, he said, the waves would be carried to the shores of Nakhon Si Thammarat and Surat Thani.

As it churns through the sea, Pabuk has gathered pace with 75-kilometre-an-hour winds stirring huge waves of up to five metres high (16 feet).

Southern Vietnam also was expecting heavy rain and strong winds in the Mekong Delta, the country's major area for rice and aquaculture production.

Holidaymaker Mandira Popat told CNN she was stranded on the small resort island of Koh Ngai, in the Andaman Sea, with her husband Akshyat Bhatia.

But holidaymakers keen to leave the islands face long delays with a backlog of flights as three airports reopened and ferry services slowly resumed on Saturday.

It appeared that the storm's effects would not be as bad as expected. People in the Gulf should be aware of inshore storm surges. There is also the possibility of mudslides from the Phuket mountain range on the western side of the peninsula.