1 dead, thousands stranded as storm lashes Thailand

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Bangkok, Jan 4 (IANS) A fisherman was killed and thousands of people were left stranded on Thailand’s southern gulf coast as Storm Pabuk made landfall on Friday. More than 30,000 people were evacuated.

The storm made landfall at 12.45 p.m. in the Nakhon Si Thammarat province with sustained winds of 75 km per hour amid flights and ferry services cancelled since Thursday, according to Thailand’s Meteorological Department.

Some of the country’s most popular tourist destinations, including Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao islands, along with islands in the Andaman Sea such as Phuket and Koh Phi Phi were expected to be affected by the storm during the peak holiday season.

The district chief of Koh Samui island, Kittipop Roddon, told CNN that there were about 20,000 tourists staying on the island, which was the second largest in Thailand.

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“The island is now totally cut off from the mainland, all kinds of transportation (to mainland) have been suspended since yesterday,” he said, adding that there was enough food and supplies on Koh Samui to last through the storm.

The rescue services of the southern Pattani province told Efe news that the body of a fisherman was recovered after a fishing boat capsized due to strong waves. Four of the six fishermen were rescued while one continued to be missing, the rescue agency said.

The storm was expected to affect much of Thailand’s southern coast until Saturday with heavy rainfall and threat of flash floods or landslides.

Bangkok Airways announced the cancellation of all flights to and from Samui airport. Low-cost airlines such as Air Asia and Nok Air also announced the cancellation of services.

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The winds could create waves of up to 5 metres high in the Gulf and flood part of the coastline, experts said.

Several small fishing villages ceased their activities due to the storm, which will affect the region until Saturday.

–IANS

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