Tropical Storm Pabuk has been called the worst tropical storm to hit Thailand in 30 years. Thousands of people fled their homes in Koh Samui, Koh Tao and Koh Phangan on the advice of weather forecasters after predictions of five-metre high waves hitting the coastline. Pabuk made landfall at 5.45am GMT (12.45 local time) over Pak Phanang with winds of 65km/h. Devastating pictures have shown the region hit by widespread flooding, which downed electricity poles and trees.
British tourists caught up in the freak weather said they have received “absolutely no advice from officials” about what to do.
Account manager Dominic Campbell, 32, and his girlfriend opted to stay in Koh Tao after arriving on January 3 despite everyone else desperately trying to get away.
Mr Campbell said: ”I have to say, it’s very alarming when you see thousands of tourists flee the island, but you’re the one who isn’t.
“But the locals on this island don’t seem too bothered.”
”We have had absolutely no advice by officials.”
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The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is currently “advising against all but essential travel” to areas near the Thai-Malaysian border including Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and parts of Southern Songkhla province.
A FCO statement said: “Tropical Storm Pabuk is expected to hit the southern coast of Thailand on 4 January 2019.
“This will have an impact on boat sailings and flights in affected areas, which may include Surat Thani (Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Tao), Chumporn, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Phuket, Krabi, Trang, Ranong, Phang Nga, Satun and Song Khla, as well as Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat.
“You should follow instructions from local authorities and monitor weather warnings from the Thai Meteorological Department.”
The storm is moving west-northwest “slowly”, according to the Thai Meteorological Agency, which is predicting torrential downpours and gusty winds over the next 48 hours.
The Association of British Travel Agents (Abta) said this time of year is popular with holidaymakers and people should check with airlines before flying.
A statement said: ”People on holiday in the region are advised to monitor news reports and follow any advice or instructions issued by the local authorities, their travel provider and their accommodation providers,” the Abta spokesman said.
Airlines, including Thai Airways, are advising passengers to check their flight schedule before travelling.
Bangkok Airways cancelled all its flights to and from Samui Airport today but said it will “resume normal operations of flights” tomorrow.
The airline said passengers whose flights had been cancelled would be assisted by extra flights put on between Bangkok and Samui.