Chinese warned over Thai weather

Don Mueang airport holds an event to welcome Chinese tourists. (Bangkok Post file photo)

The Chinese embassy in Bangkok has issued a safety warning to tourists travelling to Thailand during next month’s “Golden Week” holiday, after six drowning incidents involving Chinese visitors occurred in August, according to a report by the South China Morning Post.

Golden Week, in the first week of October, normally coincides with the end of the monsoon season in Phuket, Phang Nga and Krabi. However, the weather can still be changeable, with strong sea winds and powerful waves, the embassy’s warning notice said.

Embassy staff told the Bangkok Post it is a common practice to issue formal notices of advice to Chinese citizens travelling to the country.

The Hong Kong-based newspaper reported that about 7 million Chinese will travel abroad during the holiday, up from more than 6 million during the same period last year.

Thailand has been in the top three overseas destinations for Chinese tourists for a long time, only behind Hong Kong and Macau, according to the China Tourism Academy, which is an official research institute under the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

In the first half of this year, 5.93 million Chinese visited Thailand, up 26% from the same period last year, said the South China Morning Post report.

The warning notice from the Chinese embassy reminds travellers that waves can reach more than two metres during the monsoon season, from May to October, and that swimming and sea trips may not be appropriate during certain weather conditions.

The Meteorological Department (MD), meanwhile, warned on Saturday that a lower pressure area over the lower part of the Gulf of Thailand was expected to bring more rain and isolated heavy rain to the East and the South today.

From Monday until Friday, the south-west monsoon is forecast to lose its strength while remaining over the Andaman Sea, the South and the Gulf of Thailand and bringing more rain to some of these areas, said the department.

In related news, government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has been assured by the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives that there was unlikely to be flooding in the Central Plains as had been feared.

In a report submitted to Gen Prayut, the ministry said that water from the country’s major dams had been drained off significantly into 12 low-lying areas in the Chao Phraya basin, designated for water catchment, said Lt Gen Sansern.

The ministry also cited in information from the MD that a cold spell will arrive early this year, which means the impact of any new storm in the region won’t be felt in Thailand, Lt Gen Sansern said.

The government also has in place a plan to gradually drain water in dams and reservoirs across the country, he said.

Chayapol Thitisak, director-general of the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department, meanwhile, said about 41,190 people in Nakhon Nayok, Prachin Buri and Chachoengsao were still affected by continuing floods.

About 232,052 people in 23 provinces, including these three, have been affected by floods since Aug 17, which have resulted in five deaths so far, he said.

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