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Railway strike

Posted by hasekamp on 31 October 2007 at 18:18 PM
State Railway of Thailand (SRT) employees Wednesday began an unexpected strike that paralyzed train services to many destinations nationwide and left thousands of angry passengers stranded over much of the country. Forty thousand daily business commuters who rely on Thailand's debt-ridden conventional rail system to get to their places of employment through often virtually impassable Bangkok traffic - as well as tourists and executive passengers on longer-distance commutes - were surprised by the walkout, staged virtually without warning to the traveling public. SRT union leaders said the rare walkout was held to protest the State Railways plan to liberalize cargo services which they believe will effect under the framework of the controversial Japan-Thailand Economic Partnership Agreement (JTEPA), the terms of which have not been fully revealed to the public. Thailand's national railway workers also complained about the mismanagement of the national railway system. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Former drug lord dies

Posted by hasekamp on 31 October 2007 at 18:15 PM
One-time drug kingpin Khun Sa, who called himself a freedom fighter but was once described by the US government as the world's largest heroin producer, died in a private house in Rangoon on Saturday. He was 74. The cause of death was not immediately known, but Khun Sa, the former leader of the Shan United Army, and also known as Chang Chi Fu, had long suffered from diabetes, partial paralysis and high blood pressure. Jam Hueng, his son, who does business in Burma's Tachilek town across the border from Chiang Rai's Mae Sai district, confirmed his father's death. Khun Sa's body was cremated in a Buddhist funeral rite in North Okkalapa township in Rangoon with about 30 people attending. His former followers will also hold a memorial service in his honor at Ban Therd Thai in Chiang Rai's Mae Fa Luang district on Nov 8. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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New mangroves

Posted by hasekamp on 30 October 2007 at 19:23 PM
Thailand and Sri Lanka have been selected by a United Nations agency to carry out pilot projects using mangrove forests to fight coastal erosion, a seminar was told yesterday. If it proves a success, the Mangroves for the Future Thailand (MFF) project could be implemented in other countries hit by the tsunami in 2004. It will be funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The US$30-million (Bt948 million) project in Thailand would be centred on Phang Nga and Ranong provinces, which were hit hardest by the tsunami, said Dr Sonjai Hawanont, a Department of Marine and Coastal Resources specialist. A similar project would be started in Nakhon Si Thammarat, located on the Gulf of Thailand and not affected by the tsunami, to prevent coast erosion due to unusually high seas and the deterioration of existing mangrove areas. (Source: The Nation)


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Bloody clash at Chatuchak

Posted by hasekamp on 30 October 2007 at 17:07 PM
Police vow to take actions against all people involved in a bloody clash at the Sunday Market in Bangkok's Chatuchak district, which has been a scene of violence since a serious quarrel between legitimate leaseholder and old stall owners late last year. The bloody clash, which took place early Tuesday, left two people in critical conditions. One of them, 35-year-old Thiti Saengboonchan, sustained a serious knife wound around the nape of his neck. Pol Lt Col Wanchai Chujit, an inspector at the Bang Sue Police Station, said Thiti was attacked after he shot Permsap Rungsaeng, 20. "Thiti was guarding the Sunday Market when a group of workers from Thanasarnsombat Company arrived to dismantle a house inside the market," Wanchai said. Thanasarnsombat Company has won the license to operate the plot on which the Sunday Market has been located from the State Railway of Thailand (SRT). However, after winning the license, stall owners in the market have refused to relocate and have often confronted workers and officials from the Thanasarnsombat Company. (Source: The Nation)


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Martial law still in 31 provinces

Posted by hasekamp on 30 October 2007 at 17:04 PM
In an attempt to prevent illegal smuggling, including narcotics, entry and to preserve natural resources, the Thai government on Tuesday agreed to maintain martial law in 31 provinces nationwide, a senior official said. The martial law would be maintained in 179 districts throughout the country. Of the total, 115 districts share a common border with neighbouring countries. The law is also effective in 38 districts of the four troubled southern provinces – Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and Songkhla, he said. Prime Minister Gen. Surayud Chulanont noted that the martial law would be lifted after an internal security law is passed by the National Legislative Assembly. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Governor: Flooding in Bangkok not serious

Posted by hasekamp on 28 October 2007 at 20:04 PM
Bangkok Governor Apirak Kosayodhin said flooding in the Thai capital now is still controllable and not serious. Speaking to journalists after inspecting flood-prevention barriers Sunday at three sites in Bangkok, Mr. Apirak said Chao Phraya River riverbank residents were less affected by high tides this year than last year, after Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) and Army officials had jointly built wooden bridges and placed sandbags to prevent water overflowing from the river to inundate their houses. Sunday's maximum water level in the Chao Phraya River hit a maximum level of 1.87 meters at 8.32 am Sunday, significantly less than yesterday's 2.20 meters. It is forecast that the water level would hit its peak of between 1.8-1.9 meters tomorrow, said Mr. Apirak (Source: Thai News Agency)


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King and sister are progressing

Posted by hasekamp on 28 October 2007 at 20:01 PM
Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana is getting increasing movement in her right arm and right leg, a fourth Royal Household Bureau statement on her condition said yesterday. The elder sister of His Majesty the King is more conscious and can perform some physical exercises. A magnetic resonance imaging (MRT) scan showed minimal brain swelling, said the statement, citing the Commission of Royal Physicians. The commission has continued providing medication and physical therapy in treating the Princess, who has cancer. The statement addressed Her Royal Highness by her extended name of "Krom Luang Narathiwas Rajanagarindra".
She and the King are both being treated at Bangkok's Siriraj Hospital. The 16th Royal Household Bureau statement on the condition of His Majesty said his large intestine had performed normally and he was no longer receiving antibiotics. His physical strength has increased, it added. (Source: The Nation)


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Flooding in many parts

Posted by hasekamp on 27 October 2007 at 11:15 AM
Heavy flooding has been hitting all parts of the country since last month, making hundreds of families homeless and inundating large areas of agricultural land. Nakhon Ratchasima has been the hardest hit of the northeastern provinces while Ayutthaya has been under water for weeks. Floods are now affecting the southern region, putting many provinces under water, particularly Surat Thani and its resort island of Koh Samui. (Source: The Nation)


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Elephants found dead

Posted by hasekamp on 25 October 2007 at 19:16 PM
Six elephants were found dead on a mountain ridge in Khlung district in Chanthaburi with their heads close together. The elephants - all female - were aged between 15 and 40 years old. Veterinarian Pattarapon Manee-on said the jumbos apparently suffered badly before each of them died one after another. "There was no trace of gunshots," the vet said. He believed the elephants died either from contaminated food or disease. Pattarapon said further examinations were needed to determine the exact cause of the animals' deaths. A forestry official said the elephants may have died from pesticide-laced fruit because local farmers had sprayed a chemical on their plantations. "The farmers were unhappy that the elephants had raided their plantations and destroyed their crops," he said on condition of anonymity. (Source: The Nation)


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Siam Park may be forced to close

Posted by hasekamp on 25 October 2007 at 19:13 PM
Siam Park has been given 10 days to submit the safety records of its amusement rides or face closure following an accident on Tuesday which killed one rider and injured five others. Thanita Phraewanit, assistant director of the Khan Na Yao district office, said the office has asked the fun park to submit a report on the safety of all amusement rides and machines by Nov 2. The park will be ordered to close unless the report is handed to the authorities by the deadline. The accident happened on the Indiana Log ride, one of the park's most popular attractions. Bangkok Governor Apirak Kosayodhin has ordered officials now to inspect all amusement parks in Bangkok. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Princess in hospital

Posted by hasekamp on 25 October 2007 at 19:10 PM
Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana, the King's elder sister, is being given medication after she experienced weakness on the right side of her body Thursday morning, the Royal Household Bureau announced Thursday night. According to a statement from the Bureau, physicians performed a brain scan which showed extensive damage to the left side of her brain. The damage was caused by clogged blood vessels. Physicians have administered medication to treat the symptoms and the princess' condition is being monitored closely. According to the statement, the princess was admitted to Siriraj Hospital on June 15 this year after she developed problems within her abdomen. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Paedophile looks at 40 years

Posted by hasekamp on 25 October 2007 at 0:05 AM
Police filed two more charges of child abuse Wednesday against a suspected Canadian paedophile arrested last week after an international manhunt prompted by child pornography on the internet. The latest charges against Christopher Paul Neil, 32, were based on testimony of a second Thai victim who alleged he was molested in 2003, when he was of minor age, police told the media. "We have strong evidence," police said. The new charges include kidnapping and child sexual abuse. "We can bring him to justice and punish him," said Pol Lt Gen Wimon. Neil, a native of a Vancouver suburb, was arrested last Friday in northeastern Nakhon Ratchasima after he fled South Korea, where he had been teaching English when international police agency Interpol made a global plea for his capture. He was initially charged with sexually molesting a 9-year-old Thai boy when he was residing in the country in 2003. German computer experts had reconstructed altered images from an Internet child pornography site, where the man had posted alleged evidence of sexual exploits with several dozen Southeast Asian boys. The charges filed thus far by Thai authorities carry combined maximum prison terms of 40 years, according to Pol Lt Gen Wimon. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Discussion on flooding in Bangkok

Posted by hasekamp on 24 October 2007 at 16:54 PM
The Prime Minister and Interior Minister, Gen. Surayud Chulanont, will meet the Bangkok Governor, Mr. Apirak Kosayodhin, today (October 24th) to discuss the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA)’s measures and progress in dealing with the flood situation in the capital. The BMA has outlined extensive plans and has also projected that it will be successful in reducing flooding conditions in Bangkok this year. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Heavy rains in Phuket

Posted by hasekamp on 24 October 2007 at 16:46 PM
Heavy rains today has caused flooding and traffic jams in some areas, but thus far there have been no reports of landslides or serious damage. A two-hour downpour starting about 10 am left Phra Phuket Kaew Rd near the Tesco-Lotus intersection under about half a meter of water, resulting in a tailback all the way to Kathu. Other parts of the intersection remained passable. Aroon Kerdsom, who heads the provincial branch of the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM-Phuket), told that his office had yet to receive any reports of landslides. DDPM-Phuket workers helped three families living on Koktanode Rd in Kata move their bedding up to the second floor after the ground floor became flooded under about 60 centimeters of floodwater, he said. Rainfall is expected to taper off by mid-November. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Flooding in the South

Posted by hasekamp on 24 October 2007 at 16:15 PM
The southern provinces of Surat Thani and Chumphon have been hit by flood, and the flood situation on the tourist island of Samui remains worrisome.
Beachfront roads at Chawang Beach and nearby commercial areas have been submerged under one meter of water, while a portion of the ring roads encircling the island are also covered by a 30 cm flood. In a village in Phrasaeng district, floodwater is two meters deep and in Don Sak district, the district chief said that officials have opened sluice gates to drain water into the sea to prevent further flooding. The governor asserted that releasing water from the waterways won't affect villagers downstream who expressed concern about possible overflowing water.
In Chumphon, flooding has extended to seven districts, including the provincial seat, and flatboats have been used to distribute over 1,000 sets of relief supplies to affected villagers. Landslide warnings have been issued disaster-prone areas. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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King can walk again

Posted by hasekamp on 23 October 2007 at 16:48 PM
His Majesty the King has regained enough strength on the right leg to be able to walk with a walker now, the Royal Household Bureau announced Tuesday. The bureau said in its 11th announcement that His Majesty has regained strength on the right leg following exercises. Doctors were pleased with the improvement in the general condition of His Majesty and His Majesty could have more foods, the bureau said. (Source: The Nation)


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Accident in Siam Park

Posted by hasekamp on 23 October 2007 at 16:47 PM
One woman was killed and five other people were injured when two boats of the Indiana Log ride at Siam Park City collided following, causing one to fall out of its track. The woman died at a hospital at 5 pm after the accident happened at 12:30 pm. The injured were rushed to the Nopparat Ratchathani Hospital. Pornsri Chanthornkhanma, manager of public relations department of the amusement park, said the accident was caused by a disrupt in the power system of the park. The power disrupt caused the water pump, which supplied water for the track of Indiana Log ride to stop. While the water stopped flowing, two boats were struck on the track for about two or three minutes. Once the water was re-supplied to the track the boat behind was sent by the water to collide into the boat ahead of it. (Source: The Nation)


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Copperfield shows cancelled

Posted by hasekamp on 23 October 2007 at 16:44 PM
Illusionist David Copperfield has postponed all his shows in Southeast Asia, including Thailand, after the Federal Bureau of Investigation raided his warehouse and a theater where he performs in Las Vegas late last week. The raid was made following sexual misconduct accusations by an unidentified woman, authorities and his lawyers said on Friday. Show organizers in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore then proposed that Mr Copperfield's management postpone his tour in this region until he was ready to pursue it. Mr Copperfield is not prevented from leaving the United States. His first show in Southeast Asia was scheduled for Jakarta, Indonesia, today . The final stop was to have been Bangkok on Nov 8-10. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Votes for sale

Posted by hasekamp on 21 October 2007 at 11:39 AM
A survey released today in Bangkok shows that nearly two out of three Thais are quite ready to accept gifts or money in exchange for their votes. Eight of 10 would not even report election corruption. The Abac Poll of Assumption University would seem to show that attempts by interim Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont to eliminate vote-buying during the upcoming general election are likely to be fruitless. Abac Poll director Noppadol Kannikar said the poll was conducted among 3,758 eligible voters in 14 provinces nationwide between October 15 -20. Some 64.6 per cent of the respondents said they were willing to accept bribes in exchange for their votes in the December 23 election. Just 35.4 per cent of the respondents said they would not accept bribes or favours in exchange for their votes. Even more worrying, 83 per cent of respondents said they would not inform the Election Commission or concerned officials of vote-buying practices even if they had evidence. Exactly two-thirds recognised that vote-buying in Thailand has now reached its most critical point ever. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Canadian paedophile arrested

Posted by hasekamp on 19 October 2007 at 11:38 AM
Canadian pedophile suspect Christopher Neil was arrested on Friday in northeastern Thailand after a week-long, international manhunt following the release of his unscrambled Internet photos. The 32-year-old had been hiding in the town of a Thai friend who used to arrange some of his sexual liaisons with boys, police said. Local cops were sent to Nakhon Ratchasima when a trace on his cellphone found that his last call was made from there. Thai police issued a warrant for Neil's arrest on Thursday after two Thai teenagers accused him of paying for oral sex when they were 9 and 14, grounds for prosecution under Thai law. His face had been digitally manipulated with a swirling pattern, but German police computer experts were able to unmask the disguise. Interpol issued an unprecedented worldwide appeal through the Internet for information on who the man was with the cleaned-up photo. More than 350 people came forward and Neil was identified by five sources from three different continents, Interpol said. Neil could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted in Thailand. (Source: Yahoo News)


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Belgian drug gang caught

Posted by hasekamp on 18 October 2007 at 16:55 PM
Four members of Belgium's "most wanted" drug- trafficking gang were arrested on Thailand's resort island of Samui, said Thai police Thursday. The four, two Belgian and two Dutch citizens, had fled Europe after the Belgian police broke up a trafficking ring last year responsible for bringing in from Latin America 125 kilograms of heroin, 200 kilograms of cocaine and 350 tons of marijuana, a Thai police spokesman said. The street value of the seized drugs was 5 million baht (150,000 dollars), he added. Belgian police officers helped identify the suspects after Thai narcotics agents moved swiftly to arrest the fugitives in an early- morning raid on the island of holiday bungalows and coconut trees. The four were named as Ronald Koornwinder, 46, and Paulus Meyer, 44, both from the Netherlands, and Belgians Koen Van Staay, 30, and Kelly Cautereels, 25, the only woman in the group. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Phang Nga ferry sunk

Posted by hasekamp on 18 October 2007 at 16:53 PM
A ferry overloaded with construction material capsized and sank off Koh Prathong in Kuraburi district about 1 am Tuesday, claiming the life of the captain. Two others survived, but a woman and her granddaughter are missing presumed dead. Police identified the sunken ferry as the Jern Jern, a flat-topped car ferry about 20 meters long and six meters wide operated by Jern Jern Co. The boat sank while it was preparing to berth at a pier after a seven-kilometer voyage from Baan Thung La Ong. The cargo comprised building materials, such as rock and cement, as well as an extended-cab pickup truck and an excavator. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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King provides food and water

Posted by hasekamp on 17 October 2007 at 17:26 PM
His Majesty the King provided 1,000 packets of food and bottles of drinking water for people who went to Siriraj Hospital to wish him well yesterday. The King told lady-in-waiting Thanpuying Pensri Watcharothai to arrange the packets of food and drinking water for distribution to well-wishers at the hospital. The King's general condition yesterday remained similar to that on Monday, the Committee of Royal Physicians said in a statement released yesterday. The statement said yesterday's test result for the King's blood chemistry profile was satisfactory. The committee advised the King to move frequently to improve his muscle strength. The number of garlands received has reached as many as 10,000 pieces a day. His Majesty asked hospital staff to collect the garlands and give them to other patients in the hospital. The King also gave the garlands to doctors and nurses at the hospital. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Now elections are official

Posted by hasekamp on 17 October 2007 at 17:24 PM
Cabinet on Tuesday approved a Royal Decree setting December 23 as election day. Election Commission (EC) secretary-general Sutthiphol Thaweechaikarn told journalists after reporting on poll preparations to the weekly Cabinet meeting that the Cabinet had approved the decree which will be presented to His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej for royal endorsement next week. The poll agency proposed that the decree take effect one day after being officially announced in the Royal Gazette. Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont, concurrently interior minister, said earlier that he would work closely with the EC to to ensure that the next general election is held in a free and fair manner. The polling agency would begin the registration of election candidates in early November. Thai citizens living overseas and outside their constituencies will be allowed to register to cast ballots in advance voting.
The 11 provinces where martial law will be lifted are Prachuap Khiri Khan, Petchaburi, Ratchaburi, Khon Kaen, Chaiyaphum, Nakhon Ratchasima, Maha Sarakham, Roi Et, Kamphaeng Phet, Nong Bua Lamphu and Udon Thani. Martial law will be reintroduced in Nong Khai, Nakhon Phanom and Mukdahan, three northeastern provinces viewed as political strongholds of the former ruling Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party, now disbanded, which was founded by ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra who was deposed in the September 19 coup last year. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Condition of King imporoves

Posted by hasekamp on 15 October 2007 at 13:57 PM
The condition of HM the King's brain membrane and nervous system, found to have a slight malfunction, had returned to normal, according to the Royal Household Bureau. This was concluded after the most recent examination. His Majesty's right side, mainly the leg, arm, elbow and wrist, which were weak, are now stronger and have almost returned to normal. HM is now able to sit up for meals. (Source: The Nation)


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Cave tragedy guides were warned

Posted by hasekamp on 15 October 2007 at 13:38 PM
The two Thai tour guides who led a group of foreign tourists into a cave at Khao Sok National Park over the weekend did so despite a warning by park officials about the danger of flooding inside. Both guides and six of the seven tourists who entered the cave with them died in the floodwaters. That the two guides were expressly warned about the danger of entering the cave was revealed in a report about the tragedy issued by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) South Region 5 office in Surat Thani and sent to the embassies of all the dead tourists, all European. The guides ignored the warning because there had been no rain earlier that day. The sole survivor was 21-year-old British woman Helena Carroll, who was rescued from inside the cave on Sunday. Her ordeal lasted some 20 hours. Ms Carroll told Thailand-based reporter Andrew Drummond that her holiday of a lifetime suddenly turned into a nightmare. The Englishwoman, from Birmingham, was traveling with fiancé John Cullan, 24, also from Birmingham. (Source: The Phuket gazette)


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Appeal to help birds to survive

Posted by hasekamp on 14 October 2007 at 17:54 PM
The Bird Conservation Society of Thailand is calling on the government to join an international programme to protect gulf wetlands that are the country's only breeding ground for a migratory bird species that could soon disappear from the face of the Earth. Philip Rounds of the society said the inner part of the Gulf of Thailand was recognized as the region's most important breeding ground for spoon-billed sandpipers, as at least 10 to 20 pairs would stop over for breeding. Regarded as one of the world's strangest birds due to its peculiar appearance, the spoon-billed sandpiper is now the worry of global bird conservation groups as its population is decreasing following the loss of its breeding grounds.
Coastal reclamation in South Korea is currently destroying over 40,000 hectares of habitat; coastal habitats are being converted into saltpans and shrimp farms in Bangladesh and Chinese coasts have been rapidly developed in recent years. Thanks to the suspension of a road project along the Gulf of Thailand, the breeding ground in Thailand still remains. (Source: The Nation)


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Tragedy in National Park

Posted by hasekamp on 14 October 2007 at 17:50 PM
Eight foreign tourists were trekking with local guides on Saturday in Khao Sok National Park in Surat Thani province when heavy rain caused a stream in Tham-nam Thalu cave to rise suddenly. Helena Carroll, a 21-year-old British woman survived and was rescued Sunday, district official Sitichai Thaicharoen said, after eight bodies had been pulled from the water. She is so far fine. She was able to climb up to the roof of the cave - that is why she survived. She has been sent to provincial hospital for treatment. Carroll, from Birmingham, waited 16 hours to be rescued.
Police identified the dead as Swiss Benno Fischer, 49, and Stalder Fischer, 48, and their daughters Ambarea, 17, and Sarah, 15, and German Eddie Gaempe, 10, and John Cullan. The two guides killed were Kitisak Pratoom, 30, and Sahachai Boonkong, 25.
Ines Gaempe, the mother of Eddie, also survived because she did not go with the others into the cave. The group had hired a long-tail boat from Baan Chiew-laan pier to the cave. They took 90 minutes on the boat, then walked for about 3km to the cave, which was described as 700 metres long and 5-10 meters wide. (Source: The Nation)


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Visitors for King after operation

Posted by hasekamp on 14 October 2007 at 17:46 PM
Her Majesty the Queen this morning visited her ailing husband at Bangkok's Siriraj Hospital where His Majesty remained under observation after treatment of a cerebral ischemia. The King, the world's longest reigning king, was taken to Siriraj Hospital at about 9am Saturday, according to a statement from the Royal Household Bureau. "Some eight hours of treatment alleviated the weakness in the right leg. The team of physicians then recommended hospitalisation for treatment and observation," the statement said. Cerebral ischemia means that the brain or parts of the brain are not receiving sufficient blood to maintain normal thinking and bodily functions. It can result from various diseases and obstruction of arteries such as by the blood clot removed from the monarch's leg. Privy Council members led by President Gen. Prem Tinsulanonda also visited His Majesty the King, who will celebrate his 80th birthday December 5. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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His Majesty in hospital

Posted by hasekamp on 13 October 2007 at 17:12 PM
His Majesty the King underwent a MRI test at Siriraj Hospital yesterday after complaining about weakness in his right leg, according to the Royal Household Bureau. When the magnetic resonance imaging device detected slightly inadequate blood flows in the left lobe of his brain, doctors recommended His Majesty to remain at the hospital for further observation. Medicine was prescribed for eight hours and the right leg showed improvement. (Source: The Nation)


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King Power may have to go

Posted by hasekamp on 13 October 2007 at 17:10 PM
King Power International Group is defying the order of Airports of Thailand (AoT) for it to remove all duty-free outlets from Suvarnabhumi, Chiang Mai, Phuket and Hat Yai airports in 60 days. Group deputy chairman Chulchit Bunyaketu said yesterday there would be no relocation and the AoT board, which gave the order on Thursday, should be aware that it should not make any movement now that the dispute between the two parties was in the courts. "In the future, if King Power is to remove any outlets, that will mean that the lawsuits must have already been finalized and King Power is the loser. In the next 60 days, if any party happens to remove the outlets, King Power must seek court protection," he said.
The AoT board on Thursday confirmed its previous decision that King Power had acquired the rights illegitimately to extend its duty-free shop contract for the airports. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Air crash investigation

Posted by hasekamp on 13 October 2007 at 17:08 PM
Wind shear definitely contributed to the crash of the One-Two-Go Airlines plane last month at Phuket, in which 90 people died, a senior transport official said Friday. But he said investigations were still under way. Transport Ministry permanent secretary Chaisawat Kittipornpaiboon said results from an examination of the flight voice and data recorders from One-Two-Go flight OG 269 had shown that sudden strong winds were partly responsible for the deadly accident on September 16. "But the black box didn't say the cause was only wind shear," Chaisawat told a press conference. He said authorities would need more time to analyze the data and other evidence before announcing their final conclusion on the cause of the crash. An examination of the so-called black boxes was conducted in the US. The McDonnell-Douglas MD-82 plane skidded off the runway after landing at Phuket Airport, 640 kilometres south of Bangkok, and crashed into an embarkment, splitting in two and bursting into flames. Altogether 90 people died in the accident and about 40 were injured. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Two elephants die in Chiang Mai Night Safari

Posted by hasekamp on 10 October 2007 at 18:08 PM
Two Chiang Mai Night Safari elephants died last month and another three are ill as a result of diet, veterinarians said yesterday. Safari senior official Suphoj Maythaphirat said the elephants ate the "wrong kind of grass". He said the park was partly to blame for not checking the feed brought in by villagers. Suphoj said insecticide in the grass could be the reason for the deaths and illnesses. Tests are continuing. Phang Joi and Phang Grandma died late last month after suffering digestive disorders. The three ill elephants are recovering on a special diet. The Chiang Mai Night Safari has been under fire several times since its opening. (Source: The Nation)


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PATA Zoo under fire

Posted by hasekamp on 10 October 2007 at 18:06 PM
Bangkok's Pata Zoo came under fire on Tuesday for operating a zoo inside a shopping mall despite the National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department's assertion that the caged animals were being treated well. The Thai Animal Guardians Association (TAGA) filed a complaint with the zoo and claimed its location was inappropriate. TAGA chairman Roger Lohanan said the authorities found nothing wrong when they inspected the zoo on Monday because their criteria was based on the legal fact that the gorilla rightfully belongs to the zoo. But he said the matter at hand had more to do with the ethics of opening a zoo at a shopping mall. The zoo's location was not appropriate and could not provide the animals with sufficient recreational space, he said. The group submitted a letter to the private zoo, he said, to get officials to improve the conditions as appropriate for such animals and put in place fire prevention measures. He suggested that zoo officials set up a committee made up of credible public and private agencies to explain the situation rather than explaining it themselves.
We visited PATA Zoo a few times and we must say that, although at first sight the zoo looks appealing, we find the conditions under which the animals have to live there are below the level one may expect of a modern zoo. Most cages are far too small for modern ideas. The best solution in our opinion would be to relocate the animals to a better equipped zoo. (Source fore the first part: The Nation)


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Revered Monk has died

Posted by hasekamp on 10 October 2007 at 17:59 PM
One of the greatest and most revered Thai Buddhist monks, Phra Panyanandha Bhikkhu, has passed away today at the age of 96 at Siriraj hospital. The venerable Phra Panya was abbot of Cholpratan Rangsarait Temple in Nonthaburi. Ordained as a novice when he was 18 years old, Phra Panya entered the monkhood at the age of 20 in Nanglad temple in the southern province of Phatthalung. He joined an Italian monk on pilgrimage to Burma to teach Buddhism and went back to stay at Suan Mokkh, a forest Dhamma centre in Surat Thani. The monk stayed at Suan Mokkh, a forest Dhamma centre in Surat Thani. At Suan Mokkh, he dedicated his life to Buddha's teaching together with his peers, including the late Phra Buddhadasa Bhikkhu, the venerable monk who was entered on Unesco's list of great international personalities in 2005. (Source: The Nation)


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No martial law during election

Posted by hasekamp on 8 October 2007 at 18:04 PM
Martial law is set to be lifted in some areas of the country during the general election set for late this year, according to Permanent Secretary for Defence Gen. Vinai Phattiyakul. Speaking after meeting newly-appointed Deputy Prime Minister Gen. Sonthi Boonyaratkalin at Government House, Gen. Vinai said he paid a courtesy call to the deputy premier to give him moral support on his first day of working in the cabinet. Asked about the possibility of canceling martial law in the run-up to the general election, Gen. Vinai said all parties concerned had discussed the matter and agreed it should be rescinded in some areas, including the northeastern region, but they had yet to consider the appropriate time. Martial law is still enforced in 35 provinces out of Thailand's 76 provinces, mainly in the North and Northeast. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Elephant kraal to be rebuilt

Posted by hasekamp on 8 October 2007 at 18:01 PM
The restoration of Ayutthaya's ancient kraal, the elephant-trapping pen, began yesterday. All 980 ageing logs in the fence surrounding the enclosure are due for replacement. The sao talung are the major component of the pen, or paniad klong chang, which wild elephants were driven into for elephant-trapping ceremonies in the Ayutthaya period. All the old timber is to be replaced under the 16-million-baht restoration project, which was launched to mark His Majesty the King's 80th birthday in December, said Ayutthaya governor Cherdphan na Songkhla. The project is due for completion next year. The governor yesterday presided over the ceremony, in which the first of the logs were uprooted from the ground. There was a ritual to obtain permission from the deities before the ceremony began, as the kraal is a traditionally sacred place. (Source The Bangkok Post)


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King endorses election bills

Posted by hasekamp on 7 October 2007 at 15:19 PM
His Majesty the King has endorsed the three organic bills on the election. It is expected to be announced in the Royal Gazette later today and will become effective on Monday. The bills concern the Election Commission (EC), political parties, and the installation of the House and the Senate. They recently passed second and third readings in the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) with a few minor changes before the Oct 8 deadline. The general election must take place within 90 days and the installation of the Senate within 150 days after the promulgation of the three laws. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Bangkok Governor: No floods

Posted by hasekamp on 7 October 2007 at 15:13 PM
Bangkok governor Apirak Kosayodhin assured the public Sunday that capital city residents living along the river would not be hard hit by floods during the current rainy season. Mr. Apirak expressed his confidence after inspecting an embankment now under construction along the Chao Phraya River. Construction of the embankment is now almost finished, he added. About 62.5 kilometres has been completed, with only 14.5 kilometres still to be built. The embankment is as long as 77 kilometres and is expected to be completed in 2010. It could prevent floodwaters from reaching inner Bangkok at the maximum level of 2.40 meters. Mr. Apirak said people living along the river and nearby canals suffered heavily in the past two years during monsoon season as their homes were inundated by floodwaters overflowing river and canal banks. While construction continues, Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) labourers have placed sandbags along the banks to prevent floodwaters below 2.40 meters from entering people's homes, said Mr. Apirak. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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PM will leave after election

Posted by hasekamp on 4 October 2007 at 16:48 PM
Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont affirms the interim government will not grab power after the general election. The premier says he will not accept any post in the next government. However, he adds that he cannot prohibit other high-ranking officials in the interim government from entering politics after the election. As for his appointment as interior minister, the premier says he decided to take up the post as he wants the help the Election Commission organize a free and fair general election. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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It will be 23 December definitely

Posted by hasekamp on 4 October 2007 at 16:44 PM
The election date has been set for December 23 after the government and the Election Commission (EC) came to an agreement Thursday. After the two-hour meeting between Prime Minister and Interior Minister Surayud Chulanont and the commission, EC Chairman Apichat Sukhaggananda said the government and the EC insisted they can organize the next poll on December 23 as originally planned. "If everyone wants to see the end of the country's crisis and wants democracy, you need to help us," Surayud replied when asked if he was confident the election will be held on that day. He said the government would propose an election decree to ask for royal endorsement after October 16. The government will also approve Bt700 million for the EC to manage the election. (Source: The Nation)


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Heavy rain expected

Posted by hasekamp on 3 October 2007 at 16:23 PM
The Meteorological Department reported at 4:00 hours today (October 3rd) that Typhoon Lekima in the South China Sea was downgrade to a severe tropical storm and has its centered about 450 kilometers east of Nakhon Phanom province, or at 18.0 degrees north latitude and 109.0 degrees east longitude, with maximum sustained winds of 100 kilometers per hour. It is moving west-northwest slowly. Abundant rain and heavy rain are expected in the eastern side of the Northeast and later the North. The affected provinces include Nakhon Phanom, Kalasin, Mukdahan, Roi Et, Yasothon, Amnat Charoen, Surin, Sisaket and Ubon Ratchathani. People in disaster prone areas should beware of heavy rain. High wave is forecast over the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand. All ships should proceed with caution, and small boats are advised to keep ashore during this period. Bangkok metropolis and vicinity will likely encounter scattered thundershowers and isolated heavy rain. The minimum temperature would be 25 degrees Celsius while the maximum temperature would be 35 degrees Celsius. The speed of southwesterly winds will be around 15 to 35 kilometers per hour. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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PM is now also interior minister

Posted by hasekamp on 3 October 2007 at 16:19 PM
Prime Minister Gen Surayud Chulanont is concurrently assuming the post of interior minister in place of Aree Wong-araya who earlier resigned under pressure. A royal decree undersigned by His Majesty the King named Gen Surayud interior minister in addition to his premiership, with immediate effect from Wednesday. Gen Surayud had earlier sought someone else to be named interior minister who would see to it that the general election, scheduled for December 23, will be held in a clean and fair fashion nationwide. The interior minister post was left vacant upon the resignation of Mr Aree, who had been found to possess corporate stocks of more than five percent or beyond the limit legally allowed for cabinet members. The former interior minister was among several others who had resigned from the Surayud cabinet for similar reasons involving their excessive holdings of corporate stocks.(Source: Thai News Agency)


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Gen Sonthi is Deputy PM

Posted by hasekamp on 2 October 2007 at 12:02 PM
His Majesty the King Tuesday signed a royal command to appoint Gen Sonthi Boonyaratglin as deputy prime minister. The appointment of Sonthi, ex-army chief and ex-chairman of the Council for National Security, was sent for announcement in the Royal Gazette at 3:30 pm. Sonthi retired as army chief at the end of September and resigned as CNS chairman on Monday. His appointment followed the resignations of five Cabinet members, who were found to have violated the 5-per cent share holding limit. Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont said Sonthi's appointment was submitted for the royal command on September 30. He said another list of Cabinet reshuffle would be submitted for a royal command Tuesday evening.' Surayud indicated that he would concurrently hold the post of interior minister by saying that he would supervise the election by himself. (Source: The Nation)


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