Thais pick up pieces as Tropical Storm Pabuk passes

Evacuees returned home to find their belongings soaked by flash floods. Pabuk made landfall last Friday afternoon in Nakhon Si Thammarat's Pak Phanang district by the Gulf of Thailand, with 75kmh winds tearing off rooftops.
Pabuk made landfall last Friday afternoon in Nakhon Si Thammarat’s Pak Phanang district by the Gulf of Thailand, with 75kmh winds tearing off rooftops. PHOTO: REUTERS
Evacuees returned home to find their belongings soaked by flash floods. Pabuk made landfall last Friday afternoon in Nakhon Si Thammarat's Pak Phanang district by the Gulf of Thailand, with 75kmh winds tearing off rooftops.
Evacuees returned home to find their belongings soaked by flash floods. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Residents face the huge task of clearing the debris left by the giant waves.
The storm toppled trees and electricity poles. Power supply has been restored but clean water remains scarce. PHOTO: REUTERS
Tourists disembarking at Surat Thani airport after tour operators were forced to suspend boats to tourist islands due to Tropical Storm Pabuk.
Residents face the huge task of clearing the debris left by the giant waves. PHOTO: REUTERS
The storm toppled trees and electricity poles. Power supply has been restored but clean water remains scarce.
Tourists disembarking at Surat Thani airport after tour operators were forced to suspend boats to tourist islands due to Tropical Storm Pabuk. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Storm that hit south downgraded to tropical depression but Met warns of torrential rain

Residents in southern Thailand began picking up the pieces in their inundated homes yesterday as Tropical Storm Pabuk weakened and swirled across the mainland into the Andaman Sea.

Airlines resumed operations, and extra flights were introduced to clear the backlog of tourists delayed by the storm.

While ferry services revved up to extract travellers from resort islands, including Koh Phi Phi, officials continued to warn against launching smaller vessels in the sea amid threats of encountering waves as high as 5m in both the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea.

Meanwhile, rescuers worked to clear felled electricity poles, uprooted trees, and other debris left by the giant waves. Evacuees returned home to find belongings soaked by flash floods.

Pabuk made landfall last Friday afternoon in Nakhon Si Thammarat's Pak Phanang district by the Gulf of Thailand, with 75kmh winds tearing off rooftops.

It then weakened while travelling to the western side of the Thai peninsula, the centre swirling yesterday morning over Leuk Bay in Krabi province with winds that went up to 55kmh.

By 9am, the storm had moved into the Andaman Sea.

In its midday report yesterday, Thailand's Meteorological Department downgraded Pabuk to a tropical depression.

But it warned of torrential rain over large parts of the south. "People should beware of the severe conditions that cause possible forest run-offs, flash floods and lowlands under water," it said in a statement.

Pak Phanang, known for its fishery and bird's nest farming, appeared to be the most devastated area.

 
 
 

"All 6,000 households living in our 7.35sq km were hit," Pak Phanang Mayor Phicheat Klasukhon told The Sunday Times over the phone. "What happened to them is devastating as the majority are low-income earners."

Some of the thousands of evacuees are returning home to find damaged roofs, after being housed in shelters for two days.

Roof tiles were out of stock, the Mayor said, and about 30 homes have completely collapsed.

Power supply was restored last Friday night but clean water remains scarce, added Mr Phicheat.

"We really need water supply to come back as we need to clean all the areas to prevent any epidemic."

Over in Krabi, the damage was lighter. Provincial Governor Kitibodee Pravitra said that about 50 people evacuated from Leuk Bay last Friday night amid stormy conditions but they returned home hours later.

"But since it has been raining heavily for days, what we are concerned about is landslides," he told The Sunday Times. "We are on high alert in 42 areas, and getting people there ready to evacuate."

The popular holiday islands off Krabi, such as Koh Phi Phi, will remain closed until conditions are stable, he said. Swimming is banned in its waters.

On another resort island, Koh Samui, tourists thronged the airport as Bangkok Airways put on extra flights to help passengers affected by flight cancellations last Friday.

Some 300 locals and tourists staying in beach hotels who were evacuated to a shelter last Friday returned to their hotels that night, said Samui district chief Kittipop Roddon.

Much of the damage involved toppled coconut trees and electricity poles, he said. "Only some areas were hit by a blackout on Friday night but things will go back to normal soon," he said.

"After a few gloomy days, the sun started shining today."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 06, 2019, with the headline 'Thais pick up pieces as Pabuk passes'. Print Edition | Subscribe