Dec. 22, 2006
Five coastal districts in the southern provinces of Surat Thani, Chumphon and Nakhon Si Thammarat were declared natural disaster zones yesterday as pounding waves and gale-force winds gathered force.
Surat Thani governor Niwat Sawatkaew halted all passenger services to Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao resort islands, while the Chumphon provincial office ordered all boats anchored until Sunday.
In Surat Thani, about 3,000 tourists and 4,000 residents were stranded in Koh Tao because stormy weather and waves have halted ferry services since Monday.
Fuel is running low, with just enough to produce electricity for the resort island until Saturday. The Second Navy Region has been asked to help ship fuel.
Kobchai Saowalak, deputy tambon administration chief, said without electricity, the island's tap water supply would stop.
The province's Don Sak and Tha Chana districts were declared disaster zones after a powerful tide and four-metre waves inundated coastal property.
Rohim Saiyib, a 48-year-old village headman in Tha Chana district said he had never seen anything like it.
''Huge waves came in so fast that we had no time to salvage our belongings. We just sprinted for our lives,'' he said.
Rough seas flattened 20 houses and left one-metre high sand banks on the road.
In Don Sak district, a village was inundated by seawater. Residents tried to clear sands from their seafront houses before 31 families decided to evacuate. The Meteorological Department said the cold front from China continued to blanket the country bringing extreme weather conditions.
In Chumphon, Lang Suan district was declared a disaster zone after surging waves washed away 22 houses and threatened shoreline breakwaters.
In Nakhon Si Thammarat, deputy governor Aruni Kulnarong said authorities had prepared evacuation plans for the 54-kilometre shoreline from Hua Sai district along Laem Talumphuk to Pak Phanang district. Authorities will keep a close watch until Monday.
Authorities warned 200 families in Laem Talumphuk to consider evacuating their homes as a powerful storm could break over them.
Not a good time to be in the Gulf of Thailand.
Randy and Ning