Around 1:00 PM today, a massive tropical storm hit Thailand with waves up to 16 feet, torrential rain, and high winds reaching 46 mph. Tropical Storm Pabuk, which is being called the country’s worst tropical storm in 30 years, has already claimed one life — a fisherman whose boat capsized due to strong winds — and the worst may yet be ahead. Although the storm is expected to slow and weaken as it moves over the mainland, it could still cause significant damage.
Big waves hit Pak Phanang district in Nakhon Si Thammarat due to approaching storm #Plabuk
📹Sakulrat Sukanant pic.twitter.com/1C19YW45B1
— Bangkok Post (@BangkokPostNews) 4 janvier 2019
According to Thailand’s Disaster Prevention and Mitigation agency, many residents in coastal areas have been evacuated, though thousands of tourists are trapped on popular islands like Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao. CNN reported that 20,000 are stuck on Koh Samui alone, Thailand’s second-largest island. Adding to the dire state of affairs, all transportation links to the mainland have been suspended since Thursday, leaving the islands completely cut off.
Krikkrai Songthanee, district chief of neighboring island Koh Phangan — where 10,000 are stranded — said, “I talked to foreigners last night and they are not scared, they understand the situation.” A British tourist, Daniel Moroz, remains optimistic. “It’s just persistent rain at the moment,” he told BBC News, “but I’ve been told the worst is coming later. We’ve been reassured our place is safe and I think by tomorrow afternoon it should have cleared.”