Floods, blackouts after Thai storm
NAKHON SI THAMMARAT, Jan 5: Floods and blackouts caused by Tropical Storm Pabuk left nearly 30,000 people in evacuation shelters across southern Thailand on Saturday, as relieved tourists stranded on islands further north were spared the worst and began to plot routes home.
Pabuk, a once in three-decade weather system, packed winds of up to 75 kilometres (45 miles) an hour and brought heavy rains and storm surges as it lashed the entire south of the kingdom on Friday, downing power cables and causing widespread flooding.
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.
But the storm tacked away from the key tourist islands of Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao where large numbers of travellers hunkered down for 24 hours in heavy rains, unable to leave as airports closed and ferry services were cancelled.
"There were no casualties, there is some sunshine today and I'm confident some tourists will be able to leave today as ferries and flights resume," said Koh Samui district chief Kittipop Roddon.
But "red flag" swimming bans off what are normally sun-baked paradise beaches at this time of year were still in place. -AFP