Southern Thai resorts on alert for Tropical Storm Pabuk

SINGAPORE - A storm brewing in the Gulf of Thailand is heading for southern Thailand and could affect tourist areas later this week, forecasters say.

Tropical Storm Pabuk has been gradually strengthening this week and now has winds of about 75kmh, storm tracking site Tropical Storm Risk says. It formed first as a tropical depression in the South China Sea and strengthened as it headed west.

Local authorities have issued warnings to residents, tourists and tour operators in the Thai resort island of Koh Samui. The storm is expected to hit all districts, including Koh Samui and Koh Phangan. Surat Thani governor Witchawut Jinto on Wednesday (Jan 2) ordered officials from the provincial marine office to strictly monitor all ships, including speedboats and ferries, in the province from Thursday to Saturday, the Bangkok Post reported.

Seatran Ferry announced that Thursday afternoon boat services between Don Sak district and Samui island will be cancelled. The last ferries on Thursday will leave both the mainland and Samui at 1pm local time. The firm would not accept advance reservations for ferries on Friday and Saturday and the schedule could be adjusted if necessary, the Post reported.

In an update on Wednesday afternoon, the Thai Meteorological Department said the storm could move through Chumphon and Surat Thani on Friday night. Most parts of Koh Samui will see heavy rain until Saturday and rough seas are also predicted, the Post quoted the department as saying.

In north-eastern peninsular Malaysia, winds and heavy rains from the storm have been lashing the coast of Terengganu.

Several fishing villages and low-lying areas were already feeling the effects of the adverse weather and some villagers have reported slight damage to their wooden houses, the New Straits Times reported.

The authorities had issued early warnings about the storm. Terengganu Meteorological Department director Rosli Zakaria said the public had been cautioned of damage to buildings and trees being uprooted, following strong winds of up to 46kmh, NST said.

Fishermen and boat operators have been asked to stay onshore until the storm passes.