Locals in Pak Phanang, in the southern province of Nakhon Si Thammarat, clear the shoreline in preparation for the approaching Tropical Storm Pabuk, 4 January 2019. Photo: CNN

By Helen Regan, Kocha Olarn, and Laura Smith-Spark
4 January 2019

Krabi, Thailand (CNN) – Thousands of people were left stranded on Thailand's southern gulf coast as Tropical Storm Pabuk made landfall on Friday.

Authorities had moved to suspend all flights and ferry services ahead of the storm, which officially made landfall in the Pak Panang district of Nakhon Si Thammarat province around 3:30 p.m. local time (3:35 a.m. ET), with maximum sustained wind speeds of 95 kilometers per hour (59 mph), according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

Some of the country's most popular tourist destinations, including Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao islands, along with islands in the Andaman Sea such as Phuket and Koh Phi Phi -- made famous by the movie "The Beach" -- are expected to be affected by the storm during what is peak holiday season.

"It's quite scary being here because we don't know what's going to happen and there is no way to leave," American tourist Miranda Abidyer, 26, who is stranded on Koh Samui island, told CNN. […]

It is highly unusual for tropical storms and typhoons to make landfall in Thailand. The last time a tropical storm made landfall in Thailand was in 1962, when Tropical Storm Harriet claimed 900 lives. The only typhoon ever to make landfall in the Southeast Asian nation was Typhoon Gay in 1989.

The district chief of Koh Samui, Kittipop Roddon, told CNN by phone Friday that there are about 20,000 tourists staying on the island, which is the second largest in Thailand.

"The island is now totally cut off from the mainland, all kinds of transportation (to mainland) have been suspended since yesterday," he said, adding that there is enough food and supplies on Koh Samui to last through the storm.

Those left are now preparing to ride out the storm, with residents on Koh Samui boarding up houses with wooden planks. By Friday, the roads on the island were quieter and store shelves emptier, witnesses told CNN. [more]

Thousands stranded on Thai islands as Tropical Storm Pabuk hits

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