Thailand Braces for Powerful Storm at Southern Beach Towns

Bangkok, Thai authorities suspended ferry

services and began evacuations Thursday ahead of a powerful tropical

storm that is expected to pound the Southeast Asian nation’s famed

southern beach resorts during a peak tourism season.

Rain was already falling around the Gulf of Thailand and officials

warned that torrential downpours, strong winds and rough seas were

expected in 16 provinces when Tropical Storm Pabuk makes its

expected landfall on Friday.

Thailand’s Meteorological Department said the storm will lash

southern Thailand’s east coast from Thursday to Saturday, with the two

provinces of Surat Thani and Nakhon Si Thammarat expected to be

hardest hit. Surat Thani is home to the popular tourist islands of Koh

Samui, Koh Tao and Koh Phangan.

The department said the storm was moving west into the Gulf of

Thailand with maximum winds of 65 kilometers (40 miles) per hour. It

said waves 3 to 5 meters (10 to 16 feet) high were possible in the Gulf

of Thailand and 2 to 3 meters (6 to 10 feet) high in the Andaman Sea

on the west coast. It warned of strong winds and storm surges on the

gulf side and said all ships should stay berthed on land through

Saturday.

Southern Thailand’s tourist industry is a huge moneymaker, and

authorities have become particularly sensitive to visitors’ safety since

last July, when 47 Chinese tourists drowned when the boat they were

on sank in rough seas near the popular resort of Phuket in the

Andaman Sea.

The storm was passing about 300 kilometers (180 miles) south-

southwest of Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City at midday Thursday. It was

expected to bring heavy rain and strong winds to the Mekong Delta,

the country’s major area for rice and aquaculture production, the

Associated Press (AP) news reported.

Source: Oman News Agency

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