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Pabuk leaves trail of damage in wake

BANGKOK: Seven provinces on the east coast in the lower South have suffered deadly destructive winds and severe floods, with over 34,000 villagers evacuated, as tropical storm Pabuk lay waste to the region and plunged people into days of despair before storming past Phang Nga out to the Andaman Sea yesterday (Jan 5).

By Bangkok Post

Sunday 6 January 2019, 02:08PM

Pak Phanang District in Nakhon Sri Thammarat remains flooded. Photo: Bangkok Post / Pattarapong Chatpattarasill

Pak Phanang District in Nakhon Sri Thammarat remains flooded. Photo: Bangkok Post / Pattarapong Chatpattarasill

Authorities in hardest-hit Nakhon Sri Thammarat said they could make only rough estimates of the damage as the number of uprooted trees and fallen electricity poles on many roads are considerable and they need time to assess what they described as “flatten” fruit plantations in all 16 districts.

At least four people died – three in Nakhon Sri Thammarat and one in Pattani – when Pabuk crashed into the Pak Phanang district coastline and slammed its neighbouring provinces on Friday. Some farm animals were also heavily hit, but damage is still being examined.

In Nakhon Sri Thammarat, Pharadon Ketchat, 35, was killed when a tree fell on his house in Chian Yai district while Pricha Chankaeo, 66, drowned in Pak Phanang. Even at an evacuation shelter in Hua Sai district, a 101-year-old man, Tun Phengchan, was declared dead due to heart failure.

In Pattani, a fisherman was killed and his friend is still missing after their boat was capsized by large waves.

The body of a man, believed to be a victim of tropical storm Pabuk, was found on the beach of Ban Pata Budi in tambon Laem Pho of Yaring district this morning.

Olarn Bilson, the Yaring district chief, led administrative officials and police to the beach to examine the swollen corpse. It could not yet be determined whether the body was of a crew member of a fishing boat that capsized in the sea off Laem Tachi area in tambon Laem Pho on Friday.

Of the six people on board the boat, four survived, one died and one went missing. The missing man was Chalong Chanthana.

Relatives of the missing man and the owner of the boat had been called to identify whether the body was of Chalong, Mr Olarn said.

The boat that capsized was salvaged and hauled to the pier of the marine office of Pattani.

Nakhon Sri Thmmarat officials were kept busy yesterday (Jan 5) as they surveyed affected areas and braced for a mountain torrent which threatened to flood its municipality area, the latest target after municipalities in Pak Phanang and Pak Nakhon in Muang district were put under deep water on Friday due to an usually high tide.

Electricity workers, meanwhile, tried to finish repairing damaged power poles, which caused blackouts and affected nearly 60,000 residents in Muang and Pak Phanang district on Friday.

“The number of fallen electricity poles is 32 in this province,” Chayaphon Thitisak, chief of the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation said yesterday as he announced an initial estimate of the damage in the seven provinces.

Nakhon Sri Thammarat's six seaside districts of Pak Phanang, Muang, Hua Sai, Khanom, Sichon and Tha Sala were hardest hit by severe gusty winds, he said.

However, officials earlier tried to curb the impact by evacuating villagers out of risk areas. In these six districts alone, more than 30,000 people were taken to safety in just a few hours.

They began to return homes yesterday after the Meteorological Department said Pabuk, which was downgraded to depression after making landfall, left the Phang Nga coast.

But houses in parts of Nakhon Sri Thammarat's Muang district may not be completely safe as Nakhon Sri Thammarat Mayor Chaowat Senphong received a report of “huge run-off” looming outside the municipality area.

The deluge was expected to reach the city last evening, but some roads had already encountered floods earlier in the day.

“The damage is believed to go beyond B150 million” in Nakhon Sri Thammarat municipality alone where fierce winds destroyed at least 60 houses, Mr Chaowat said.

Splash Beach Club

Pak Phanang municipality also bore a heavy brunt as its 26,000 householders were all affected, its Mayor Phichet Klasukhon said.

“We’ve encountered the first-ever severe flood which burst into all the houses and left them under deep water,” he said.

The Centre for Economic and Business Forecasting, the research arm of the University of Thai Chamber of Commerce, estimated the economic damage in the whole southern region should come to B3-5 billion.

One impact can be seen in the tourism sector. Tourists have left popular resort islands both in the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea in droves since getting word of the approaching storm.

The situation continued yesterday when 1,500 air travellers flew out of Surat Thani, one of the seven provinces affected by the storm.

Besides these two provinces, another five provinces – Pattani, Songkhla, Yala, Phatthalung and Narathiwat – were also hit hard, especially by destructive winds, according to Mr Chayaphon.

Evacuation plans were carried out in most of the provinces to protect villagers.

In total, nearly 2,000 houses were damaged by powerful winds, Mr Chayaphon said.

Pabuk slowly left Thailand yesterday. At 3 pm, it was about 55 kilometres off Phang Nga’s Takua Pa district and kept moving northwest in the Andaman Sea, the Thai Meteorological Department said.

But its departure also caused rainfall in the upper southern region, including Prachuap Khiri Khan and Phetchaburi, department chief Phuwieng Prakhammintara said, adding “even parts of Bangkok are shrouded with dark clouds.”

A fishing village in Prachuap Khiri Khan’s Bang Saphan district is among areas which were also severely affected by Pabuk.

At least 20 houses in Tambon Mae Ramphueng were flooded by strong sea currents with water levels nearly reaching some house roofs, Bang Saphan district chief Loetyot Yaemphrai said.

One fisher was wounded while fleeing her inundated home. “The water surged and quickly reached my neck,” said Bunsoi Sukprasoet.

Pabuk’s impact was also felt in Trat and Rayong. According to officials, 50 seaside houses were flooded in Trat’s Khlong Yai district. A similar situation was also reported in some areas of Chang resort island off the Trat mainland.

Chief of Mu Ko Chang Marine National Park on the island said a foreign tourist was washed out to the sea while swimming. Fortunately, he was rescued in time.


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Kurt | 07 January 2019 - 11:29:18

When they start in the usual flood areas to 'foot' electric poles in cement/concrete? Learning curve?

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