Authorities in Surat Thani province on Thursday declared as disaster zones the two districts that have been suffering from blackouts since Tuesday, s there are no immediate solutions to the problem.
Surat Thani’s Governor Chatpong Chataputi announced the decision after boarding a helicopter to inspect the situation in Koh Samui and Koh Phangan districts in the morning.
The decision enables the provincial authority to use its emergency budget of Bt50 million, which will be used to buy necessary supplies, particularly petrol, for affected people.
The blackout occurred at about 8am on Tuesday reportedly when a main underground power cable shortcircuited. The repair works were initially expected to be completed on Wednesday night.
Both islands are known to tourists for their beautiful sea, beaches, blue skies and world-renowned diving sites. The blackouts sent tourists away from the islands, with Samui airport crowded with visitors wanting to leave the island.
Meanwhile Senee Puwasettathavorn, president of the tourism council of Surat Thani, said about 20 per cent of the tourism industry on the islands was affected by the blackout. There are about 500 hotels with 18,000 rooms and 5,000 rented rooms, apartments and resorts on both islands.
Senee called on the authorities to give priority to solving the problems, pointing out that electricity is essential to all businesses. He expressed concerned that without electricity, tap water could not be produced and there could be hoarding of petrol and other necessities.
Meanwhile Koh Samui and Koh Phangan hospitals issued statements saying that they are not affected by the blackouts as they have sufficient petrol to operate the spare power generators.