Published: Sun, January 06, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Tropical Storm Pabuk: Kiwi couple trapped on resort island Koh Samui

Tropical Storm Pabuk: Kiwi couple trapped on resort island Koh Samui

Thailand cancelled flights to a popular tourist island, battened down beachside resorts and evacuated offshore oil rigs as the first tropical storm in almost 30 years menaced its southern shores on Thursday.

One person was reported dead and another missing after a fishing boat with a crew of six capsized in high waves, but there were no reports of major damage by nightfall.

Boats were recalled to shore across the Gulf of Thailand, while three key southern airports were shut until Saturday, leaving tourists who remain on islands now cut off from the mainland.

"Ten thousand tourists are still on Koh Phangan", said Krikkrai Songthanee, district chief of the island which neighbours Samui and is famed for its full-moon parties.

Evacuations were ordered and services suspended today as the storm pounding the nation's south claimed its first reported victim.

After crossing the Chumphon Archipelago and mainland provinces, the storm will move into the Andaman Sea, impacting the Andaman and Nicobar Islands with heavy rain and gusty winds before dissipating in the Bay of Bengal this weekend.

Beaches were closed, but even with the bad weather approaching, tourists on the popular island of Koh Samui in the Gulf of Thailand continued to visit bars and restaurants.

At 1 p.m. Thursday, the centre of the storm will be around 220 kilometers to the southeast of Ca Mau Province in Vietnam's southern tip, with wind speeds of 90 kilometers per hour.

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"We have prepared three shelters and now have about 1,000 people in them", said local official Kriangsak Raksrithong.

The storm hit during the kingdom's peak tourist season.

Thousands of residents living in coastal areas were evacuated to storm shelters on Thursday, according to Thailand's Disaster Prevention and Mitigation agency. Police patrolled beaches, although many were nearly deserted. Mountainous inland areas of Nakhon Si Thammarat, Surat Thani, Phang Nga, Trang and Krabi are at risk of flash floods and landslides.

It continued to warn of strong winds and waves 3-5 metres high in the Gulf of Thailand and 2-3 metres in the Andaman Sea.

The Meteorological Department expects the storm to weaken to a tropical depression.

Katie Preston, 23, and her partner, Liam Bland, 29, took the last boat out to their holiday hotel on Koh Phangan, Thailand, before services were suspended ahead of the potential deluge.

Rain, winds and surging seawater are striking southern Thailand. Affected areas are largely in the Southern provinces 3.

In the past, tropical storms have killed hundreds of people but authorities say they are well prepared and able to cope with the expected storm surges of up to five meters.

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