Vastavam web: Floods and blackouts caused by Tropical Storm Pabuk left nearly 30,000 people in evacuation shelters across southern Thailand Saturday, as relieved tourists stranded on islands further north were spared the worst and began to plot routes home. Pabuk, a once in three-decades 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 as high waves smashed into his boat and another crew member was reported missing.
“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,” Kittipop Roddon, Koh Samui district chief said. But “red flag” warnings banning swimming off what are normally sun-baked paradise beaches at this time of year were still in place. “It’s all over. All 10,000 tourists are safe… I am relieved,” Krikkrai Songthanee, district chief of neighbouring Koh Phangan, an island famed for its full-moon parties, told AFP, adding only minor damage had been caused by high winds.
But holidaymakers keen to leave the islands face long delays as transport links are slowly reopened on Saturday. Pabuk made landfall on Friday afternoon in Nakhon Si Thammarat province, south of the tourist hubs on the Gulf of Thailand, hammering the coastal province with rain. Authorities warned of flash floods as some parts remained inundated by a combination of rainfall and storm surges. Around 200,000 people were left without power as dozens of electricity poles were toppled by high winds or falling trees.