Thai is­lands brace for trop­i­cal storm

China Daily - - WORLD -

BANGKOK, Thai­land — Thai au­thor­i­ties sus­pended ferry ser­vice and be­gan evac­u­a­tions on Thurs­day ahead of a pow­er­ful trop­i­cal storm that is ex­pected to pound the South­east Asian na­tion’s famed south­ern beach re­sorts.

Rain was al­ready fall­ing around the Gulf of Thai­land on Thurs­day morn­ing and of­fi­cials warned that tor­ren­tial down­pours, strong winds and rough seas were ex­pected in 16 prov­inces when Trop­i­cal Storm Pabuk makes its ex­pected land­fall on Fri­day.

“There will be heavy rain­fall and we have to pre­pared for flood­ing or an im­pact on trans­porta­tion,” Prime Min­is­ter Prayuth Chan-ocha said. “We are ready our­selves but if the rain­fall is high we will need some time to re­solve prob­lems.”

Thai­land’s Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Depart­ment said the storm will lash south­ern Thai­land’s East Coast from Thurs­day to Satur­day, with the two prov­inces of Su­rat Thani and Nakhon Si Thammarat ex­pected to be hard­est hit. Su­rat Thani is home to the pop­u­lar tourist is­lands of Koh Sa­mui, Koh Tao and Koh Phangan.

The depart­ment said the storm was mov­ing west into the Gulf of Thai­land with max­i­mum winds of 65 km per hour. It said waves 3 to 5 me­ters high were pos­si­ble in the Gulf of Thai­land and 2 to 3 me­ters in the An­daman Sea on the West Coast. It warned of strong winds and storm surges on the gulf side and said all ships should stay berthed on land through Satur­day.

South­ern Thai­land’s tourist in­dus­try is a huge mon­ey­maker, and au­thor­i­ties have be­come par­tic­u­larly sen­si­tive to vis­i­tors’ safety since last July, when 47 Chi­nese tourists drowned when the boat they were on sank in rough seas near the pop­u­lar re­sort of Phuket in the An­daman Sea.

In what was pos­si­bly a storm-re­lated death, a Rus­sian tourist in Koh Sa­mui drowned on Wed­nes­day as he tried to res­cue his daugh­ter, who was strug­gling in strong surf. Thai PBS tele­vi­sion re­ported that the daugh­ter sur­vived but her fa­ther lost con­scious­ness af­ter be­ing tossed against some rocks and couldn’t be re­vived by res­cuers.

Fish­ing is an­other ma­jor in­dus­try in the south, and small boat own­ers were heed­ing the warn­ing. Many dragged their ves­sels ashore, at­tach­ing ropes to the boats and hav­ing friends help drag them on to beaches.

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