Tropical storm Pabuk sparks mass panic on Thai island resorts as 50,000 tourists flee 22-foot waves and heavy rain
PANIC has swept through Thailand’s island paradises as a tropical storm with 22-foot waves barrels towards them prompting up to 50,000 terrified tourists to flee.
Heavy rains and winds threaten to batter Koh Phangan, Koh Tao and Koh Samui which have seen holidaymakers leave on mass, officials said.
AP:Associated Press A sandbank has been built to protect properties on Songkhla, Thailand, as the tropical storm approaches[/caption]
Tens of thousands of tourists left on ferries bound for Thailand’s southern mainland before services were suspended today.
However, many people have been left stranded on the islands as Tropical Storm Pabuk howls towards them.
There are fears that the storm will be the worst to hit Thailand since 1989 when Typhoon Gay left more than 400 dead.
Yesterday a Russian tourist in Koh Samui died Wednesday as he tried to rescue his daughter, who was struggling in strong surf.
Thai Meteorological Department A radar weather map shows the storm’s heavy rains will batter Thailand’s southern region[/caption]
AP:Associated Press A man raises a red flag indicating rough weather conditions in Chaweng beach, Koh Samui – ahead of storm Pabuk[/caption]
Viral Press Tourists who fled the islands ahead of the storm step off a ferry in the Donsak district of Surat Thani in southern Thailand[/caption]
AP:Associated Press Fishermen in Songkhla prepare for the storm to hit. Songkhla is located in the south of Thailand near its border with Malaysia[/caption]
Viral Press Elderly residents in the Nong Chik district of Pattani province, southern Thailand, are evacuated this afternoon[/caption]
Holidaymakers have complained on social media that they were given little warning of the storm by their hotels or airlines.
Pabuk is the first tropical storm in around 30 years to hit outside the country’s monsoon season which lasts from May until October.
The high winds and rain are set to move towards mainland Thailand after savaging the islands.
Viral Press An elderly woman is carried to safety by a rescue worker in Nong Chik[/caption]
Viral Press Residents take shelter at an evacuation centre in Nakhon Si Thammarat in the south of the mainland[/caption]
Viral Press Pabuk is the first tropical storm to batter Thailand outside of the monsoon season in around 30 years[/caption]
Google The popular holiday islands of Koh Phangan, Koh Tao and Koh Samui are all set to be battered by the tropical storm[/caption]
Thailand’s Meteorological Department said the storm will lash southern Thailand’s east coast through Saturday.
Army trucks were driving around remote seaside areas searching for stragglers who had not yet been evacuated.
Krikkrai Songthanee, Koh Phangnan district chief, confirmed that “between 30,000 to 50,000” people had left the “almost empty” islands since New Year’s Eve.
However, the mayor of Koh Tao said that while boats were packed with tourists leaving the popular island, several thousand guests remained stranded on the paradise getaway.
EPA A satellite image of Tropical Storm Pabuk heading towards Thailand[/caption]
Viral Press Waves batter the coastline of Khanom district in Nakhon Si Thammarat, southern Thailand[/caption]
Viral Press Waves reaching 22 feet high are expected to batter parts of southern Thailand[/caption]
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#Pabuk is a rare January storm in the Gulf of Thailand. Beyond the immediate impact of strong winds, there will be high waves and risk of storm surge and heavy flooding from accompanying "torrential downpours". Storm's projected path via Joint Typhoon Warning Centre. pic.twitter.com/4xBIZoTQiF
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Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha: “There will be heavy rainfall and we have to prepared for flooding or an impact on transportation.
“We are ready ourselves but if the rainfall is high we will need some time to resolve problems.”
Forecasters say that despite its 65mph winds, the storm is unlikely to develop into a full-blown hurricane.
Phuwieng Prakammaintara, director general at the Thai Meteorological Department, spoke about the giant waves Pabuk is expected to create.
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He said: “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.
“It’s difficult to predict the severity of the storm so people should comply with authorities’ recommendations.”
The storm is also expected to dump heavy rain across the south, including tourist hotspots in the Andaman Sea such as Krabi and the southernmost provinces bordering Malaysia of Pattani, Narathiwat and Yala.
Pabuk means giant catfish in Lao – the language of neighbouring Laos which is very similar to Thai.
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