One person was killed as the first tropical storm to hit Thailand in three decades pounded its southern coast on Friday, flooding the roads, blowing tiles off roofs and uprooting trees. But by nightfall it appeared that Tropical Storm Pabuk had caused less damage than feared.
Officials say the victim was part of a fishing crew whose vessel capsized near the coast.
One other crew member remains missing but four others were rescued by authorities.
A statement by the Thai Meteorological Department on Friday afternoon said the storm was losing speed as it continues into Saturday but also warned of “forest runoffs and flash floods.”
Airlines and boat operators suspended operations for safety reasons and some tourists were forced to change travel plans. Beaches were closed but some bars and restaurants on the popular island of Koh Samui remained open.
In anticipation for the storm, flights to and from Nakhon Si Thammarat and Surat Thani airports had been canceled, while boat services suspended operations for safety reasons, All perations on offshore gas fields remain suspended.
More than 6,000 people living in the country’s southern provinces had also been evacuated to shelters on higher ground. Evacuation efforts were especially intense in Nakhon Si Thammarat province, where authorities sent trucks through flooded streets with downed power lines urging people to leave. “You cannot stay here. It’s too dangerous,” officials repeated over loudspeakers.
The navy said Thailand’s sole aircraft carrier, the HTMS Chakri Naruebet, was on standby at its base east of Bangkok, prepared to sail to help with relief efforts at a moment’s notice.