Tourists flee Thai islands | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 04, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:06 AM, January 04, 2019

TROPICAL STORM PABUK

Tourists flee Thai islands

Tens of thousands of tourists have fled some of Thailand's most popular islands and resort areas as Tropical Storm Pabuk closes in and threatens to batter the southern part of the kingdom with heavy rains, winds and seven-metre waves.

The islands of Koh Phangan and Koh Tao, packed with holiday-makers during the peak Christmas and New Year season, have emptied out since Wednesday as tourists squeeze onto ferries bound for the southern Thai mainland, with swimming banned and boats set to suspend services.

Pabuk, Thailand's first tropical storm in the area outside of the monsoon season for around 30 years, is poised to hit the two islands as well as neighbouring Koh Samui on today afternoon, before cutting into the mainland.

Packing winds of 104 kilometres per hour (65 mph), Pabuk is unlikely to intensify into a full-blown typhoon, according to forecasters.

Pabuk, which means a giant catfish in Lao, is also expected to dump heavy rain across the south, including tourist hotspots in the Andaman Sea such as Krabi and Phuket.

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