Jan. 4 (UPI) -- One person died Friday as Thailand was hit by Tropical Storm Pabuk, the most powerful storm to hit the country in three decades.
The storm made landfall in Nakhon Si Thammarat, about 380 miles south of Bangkok on the east coast of the Malay Peninsula -- with sustained winds of 46 miles per hour.
Heavy rains accompanied the storm while strong gusts knocked over trees, damaged houses and toppled power poles.
Thai authorities said the person died when a fishing boat he was in capsized in strong waves at about 2 a.m. Friday close to the coast of Pattani province, the Bangkok Post newspaper reported. Four others on the boat survived and another remained missing.
Thailand's Meteorological Department said the storm moved inland at 8 mph into Surat Thani. Officials said widespread torrential rainfall was expected through much of that area.
Affected areas included the Thai provinces of Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chumphon, Surat Thani, Nakhon Si Thammarart, Phatthalung, Songkhla, Ranong, Phangnga, Phuket, Krabi, Trang and Satun.
Experts say Pabuk is the most powerful storm to hit Thailand since Typhoon Gay in 1989, which killed hundreds of people.
It's rare for tropical storms or typhoons to hit Thailand -- the last coming in 1962 when 900 died from Tropical Storm Harriet.
Kittipop Roddon, district chief of Koh Samui, told CNN about 20,000 tourists were staying on the island when the storm hit.
"The island is now totally cut off from the mainland, all kinds of transportation have been suspended," Roddon said, adding there were enough food and supplies on the island to ride out the storm.
Thailand's energy ministry said Thursday more than 2,600 staff members working on offshore oil rigs were evacuated to the mainland, but nearly 250 were left behind, Thai PBS World reported.
Royal Thai naval aircraft carrier Chakri Narubaet left its base Friday to assist with rescue and relief operations, officials said.