Rain, storm cross southern Thailand without major damage

BANGKOK (AP) — Ferry services and airports reopened yesterday in southern Thailand after a storm moved west into the Andaman Sea, causing disruption and one confirmed death in its wake.

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 yesterday for rides back to the mainland.

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 on Friday. Another member of its six-man crew was missing.

Thai people push a motorcycle through floodwater from Tropical Storm Pabuk, southern Thailand. – AP

The authorities had prepared for the storm by evacuating almost 29,000 people in provinces most at risk, the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation said. In Nakhon Si Thammarat, the hardest hit province some 800 kilometres south of Bangkok, 32 electric poles were felled, transformers exploded, and communications lines were down in some districts, the agency reported.

Stormy weather continued yesterday, 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 kilometres per hour (kph) as it moved west-northwest at a speed of 10kph.

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 three-five metres high in both the Gulf and the Andaman Sea, raising the possibility of inland storm surges.