NAKHON SI THAMMARAT, Thailand (AP) — Rain, wind and surging seawater from a tropical storm buffeted coastal villages and world-famous tourist resorts on southern Thailand’s east coast on Friday, knocking down trees and utility poles and flooding roads.
One person was reported dead and another missing after a fishing boat with a crew of six capsized in high waves, but there were no reports of major damage by nightfall. It appeared that Tropical Storm Pabuk caused aggravation during the country’s high tourist season but less damage than had been feared.
Airlines and boat operators suspended operations for safety reasons and tourists were forced to change travel plans.
Beaches were closed, but even with the bad weather approaching, tourists on the popular island of Koh Samui in the Gulf of Thailand continued to patronize bars and restaurants catering to them.
That was good fortune for the tourism industry, whose safety problems were highlighted last July when 47 Chinese tourists drowned after their boat sank in rough seas near the popular resort of Phuket.
Ahead of this week’s storm, more than 6,100 people in four provinces were evacuated, according to the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation.
The Meteorological Department said the storm had maximum sustained winds of 65 kilometers (40 miles) per hour at late afternoon, down from 75 kph (47 mph) when it hit land shortly after noon.
It continued to warn of strong winds and waves 3-5 meters (10 to 16 feet) high in the Gulf of Thailand and 2-3 meters (6 to 10 feet) in the Andaman Sea. It advised all ships to stay ashore through Saturday and warned of possible storm surges on the Gulf coast.
“We can expect heavy rain and downpours, flooding and flash floods in the area throughout the night,” department Director-General Phuwieng Prakhammintara said.
Evacuation efforts were especially intense in Nakhon Si Thammarat province, about 800 kilometers (480 miles) south of Bangkok, where authorities sent trucks through flooded streets with downed power lines, urging people in danger zones to leave.
“You cannot stay here. It’s too dangerous,” they repeated from truck-mounted loudspeakers.