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Thousands Evacuated as Tropical Storm Pabuk to Strike Southern Thailand

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NAKHON SI THAMMARAT – Residents living on coastal areas in the southern region are leaving home for shelters ahead of the arrival of tropical storm Pabuk, which is expected to reach the shore on Friday.

The attention is on Nakhon Si Thammarat as forecasters of the Meteorological Department warned on Thursday that the storm will make landfall in the province on Friday night.

The province, which has a 220km-long coastline, prepares 90 shelters to accommodate up to 86,000 evacuees.

The latest warning issued by the weather forecast agency at 5pm said the storm in the Gulf of Thailand was moving west with maximum winds of 65km per hour. The eye of the storm was 500km southeast of Nakhon Si Thammarat.

Mass evacuation has been ordered for people living in six coastal districts of Nakhon Si Thammarat where powerful tropical storm Pa Buk was predicted to make landfall tomorrow night.

Deputy provincial governor Tawornwat Kongkaew said on Thursday about 30,000 people living on the coastal districts of Muang, Tha Sala, Sichon, Khanom, Pak Phanang and Hua Sai, were moved to safe places. Authorities in the province planned to evacuate all people living in coastal homes to shelters before the storm hits the province.

Shelters have also been set up in other southern provinces and all schools in Nakhon Si Thammarat will close on Friday.

Nine oil-and-gas drilling firms have already moved 2,635 employees from offshore drilling platforms to the mainland, leaving only 246 at work to oversee operations, according to the Energy Ministry.

The Hydro and Agro Informatics Institute and Joint Typhoon Watch Centre have predicted Pa Buk was likely to make landfall in Laem Taloompook in Pak Phanang district with wind speed of up to 90 kph tomorrow night instead of somewhere between Surat Thani and Chumporn as earlier forecast.

Pabuk may slam into the province of Nakhon Si Thammarat as early as Friday afternoon, local time. The storm would then emerge off the western coast around Phang-nga on Saturday morning.

Defence permanent secretary General Nath Intharacharoen said 11 helicopters, two naval vessels, 100 water pushing boats, transport planes and five pontoon bridge carriers have been put on standby for the rescue and relief operations.

The Royal Thai Air Force and the Ministry of Interior separately held emergency meetings to assess the situation and to make preparations to assist people affected by the tropical storm.

The Air Force has put on standby two EC-725 search and rescue helicopters, one Bell chopper and two C130 transport planes which could be airborne within 30 minutes of being alerted to carry out their missions.

On top of that, the Air Force has prepared flat-bottomed boats, speed boats, mobile generators, water pumps, high-powered water jets, pontoon bridges, water trucks, water production trucks and mobile kitchens to meet with emergency requirements.

Thai PBS news team reported today from the estuary of Tapee River in Surat Thani province that large vessels such as cargo freighters, ferries and gas carrying ships were heading for the mainland to escape the tropical storm.

Residents living near the estuary of the river told Thai PBS that they had never seen so many large ships heading for and docking close to the mainland before.

Bangkok Airways today issued a statement advising passengers to check flight status before boarding from today until Saturday.

Source: Thai PBS, Bangkok Post