Thousands of residents in Thailand are seeking refuge as rains, winds and surging seawater buffet coastal villages and world-famous tourist resorts. This Friday, Tropical Storm Pabuk made a landfall on the country’s east coast.
According to Phuwieng Prakhammintara, the Director-General of the Thai Meteorological Department, the storm, with maximum sustained winds of 70 kph hit the shore of Nakhon Si Thammarat province on Friday morning and was roaring westward at 20 kph.
“We can expect heavy rain and downpours, flooding and flash floods in the area throughout the night,” Prakhammintara warned at a news conference.
Earlier on Friday, authorities in Nakhon Si Thammarat province which is located about 800 kilometers south of the country’s capital, Bangkok had to drive trucks through flooded streets with downed power lines, urging people to evacuate the area.
“Anyone still inside, please make noise and officials will help you out. You cannot stay here. You cannot stay here. It’s too dangerous,” the officials said from truck-mounted loudspeakers.
While torrential rain and strong winds are expected to affect more than a dozen other provinces, Nakon Si Thammarat and Surat Thani, home to the tourist islands of Koh Samui, Koh Tao and Koh Phangan are expected to be the hardest hit.
The Meteorological Department says that waves 3 to 5 meters high were possible in the Gulf of Thailand on the east coast and 2 to 3 meters high in the Andaman Sea on the west coast. It also warned of strong winds and storm surges on the gulf side and said all ships should stay berthed on land throughout Saturday.
The Thai authorities have also suspended ferry services in the Gulf of Thailand while flights to Nakhon Si Thammarat and Koh Samui have been cancelled.
There are fears that the storm may be the worst to hit Thailand since 1989 when Typhoon Gay left more than 400 people dead.