All flights and ferry services along Thailand’s southern golf coast will be suspended as Tropical Storm Pabuk approaches. Tourists and residents in the areas have fled to safety after authorities warned of strong winds and 7 metre waves, evacuations are currently underway.

The storm, said to be the worst to hit the country in decades, is making it way towards popular tourist spot, Surat Thani – home to Koh Phangnan, Koh Samui and Koh Tao.

Christmas and New Year is peak holiday season for Thailand.

Heavy downpours are already falling and the storm is expected to strengthen late this evening. It is expected to be the worst storm to hit Thailand since 1989 when more than 900 people lost their lives during Typhoon Gay.

On Wednesday, a tourist died in Koh Samui trying to save his daughter who was caught in strong surf.

Thailand’s military are aiding tourists and residents with the evacuation and shelters have been prepared.

Those due to travel to Thailand, and who wish to cancel their holiday due to the storm, should check their travel insurance for the following cover: ‘Force Majeure’ (also known as Catastrophic Event or Natural Disaster) or ‘cancellation for any reason that you could not have been expected to see of avoid’ or ‘cancellation for any cause’.

It is unlikely holidaymakers will be able to claim back the cost of their holiday if their travel insurance policy does not offer one of the above, but as cover can differ always check individual travel insurance documents.

Holidaymakers who booked through a travel agent or tour operator should speak directly to the company.