Tropical storm crosses south Thailand without major damage

BANGKOK (AP) — Ferry services and airports reopened in southern Thailand on Saturday as a storm moved west into the Andaman Sea after causing disruption and leaving at least one person dead.

Tropical Storm Pabuk barreled across the Gulf of Thailand on Friday but spared world famous beach resorts major damage.

The storm damaged houses, knocked down power lines and triggered flash floods in several east coast provinces.

On the island of Koh Samui, where the suspension of air and ferry services had trapped many visitors, lines were long Saturday for rides back to the mainland.

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The area’s large fishing industry had to stand down, with ships ordered to stay in ports and small boats hauled ashore to keep them from being swept away. One fisherman died when his boat, caught at sea, capsized Friday. Another member of its six-man crew was missing.

The authorities prepared for the storm by evacuating almost 29,000 people in provinces most at risk, the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation said. In the hardest-hit province of Nakhon Si Thammarat, about 800 kilometers (480 miles) south of Bangkok, 32 electric poles were felled, transformers exploded and communications lines were down in some districts, according to the department.

Stormy weather continued Saturday, but its effects on the Andaman coast and the tourist hub of Phuket appeared marginal.

The storm lost strength as it crossed land, with the Thai Meteorological Department saying it packed maximum sustained winds of 55 kilometers (34 miles) per hour as it moved west-northwest at a speed of 10 kph (6 mph).

With rain continuing in some areas, the department kept its warnings of possible forest runoffs and flash floods. It also said strong winds were still forecast with waves up to 3-5 meters (10-16 feet) high in both the Gulf and the Andaman Sea, raising the possibility of inland storm surges.

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