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  1. ITV Report

Holidaymakers urged to take shelter as tropical storm Pabuk hits Thailand

British holidaymakers have been advised to avoid areas of southern Thailand as the region braces for what could be the worst tropical storm to hit in 30 years.

Tropical storm Pabuk is expected to bring five-metre high waves and winds up to 46mph as it makes landfall in the south-east Asian country.

It is expected to affect more than a dozen provinces, including Surat Thani, which is home to the islands of Koh Samui, Koh Tao and Koh Phangan, which are popular with British tourists.

Over the winter period visitor numbers increase as many head there to catch some winter sun.

Tropical storm Pabuk is expected to bring five-metre high waves and winds up to 46mph. Credit: PA

The Foreign Office has advised British nationals against all but essential travel to provinces on the Thai-Malaysia border, including areas such as Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat.

It said people should "follow advice from local authorities and monitor weather warnings from the Thai Meteorological Department".

There are fears that the storm will be the worst to hit Thailand since 1989, when Typhoon Gay left more than 400 people dead. A tropical storm in 1962 killed more than 900 people in the south.

Forecasters have warned of possible flash flooding in certain areas caused by "forest runoffs" from the rain.

Samuel Abidyer and his partner Miranda, who are in Thailand for his 30th birthday, told ITV News they had tried to book flights out when they heard about the storm, but were too late and will now ride it out on Koh Samui.

Mr Abidyer, who lives in Chester, said they felt safe because they are staying high up and away from the sea, but the situation could be worse for people closer to the beach.

"We've prepared for the worst but are hoping for the best," he said.

Paul Bains, 44, originally from Pontefract, Yorkshire, but now living in New Zealand, is on holiday with his family on Koh Samui.

He said that they were being delayed from leaving for a couple of days but it is "not the worst weather" he's seen.

"My dad described it as like Blackpool, but it's warm," he told ITV News.

Officials drove trucks fitted with loudspeakers through the streets of Nakhon Si Thammarat, where streets are already flooded and power lines are down, urging people to make themselves known so they could be helped.

"You cannot stay here," they warned. "It's too dangerous."

Thai people sleep at an evacuation centre in Nakhon Si Thammarat province. Credit: AP

In Nakhon Si Thammarat's Pak Phanang on Friday, officials used trucks to help fishermen move boats off the beach.

"You can't stay around here," local official Dahloh Bin Samah said. "These will be all razed down. Every monsoon, beachfront restaurants around here are damaged every year. But this time, we got a tropical storm coming. There won't be anything left. Nothing."

Thai authorities suspended ferry services in the Gulf of Thailand and flights to Nakhon Si Thammarat and Koh Samui were cancelled.

On Koh Samui, beach guards hoisted red flags to warn people to stay out of the sea. Police patrolled beaches, although many were almost deserted.

Two natural gas production platforms in the Gulf of Thailand directly in the path of the storm suspended operations and had their personnel evacuated to shore.