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And they’re off! Hundreds of thousands leave Bangkok for New Year break

May Taylor

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And they’re off! Hundreds of thousands leave Bangkok for New Year break | The Thaiger
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PHOTO: Eleven Media Group

Hundreds of thousands of Bangkok residents have already started heading out of the capital, headed to various Thai provinces to welcome in 2020 in the company of friends and family. The long weekends starts from tonight with many Thais being granted a public holiday on Monday, in addition to the Tuesday and Wednesday public holidays. It seems many also took today off to make it a mega long weekend.

Thai PBS World reports that the police are monitoring the highways out of the city, to make sure traffic continues to move smoothly, with CCTV units along all major routes having been checked over to ensure they’re working properly, and road works suspended until after the holiday period.

It’s understood that the Ratchaprasong intersection, in the Pathum Wan district of Bangkok, will be closed to traffic from 2pm on December 31, in order to allow police to carry out security checks ahead of the New Year countdown being held in the busy shopping area later that night.

A number of extra buses are being laid on until December 28, taking the total of state-run buses from 5,419 a day to over 8,200 in an effort to cope with what is expected to be around 160,000 travellers a day over the year-end period.

Transport officials recommend passengers arrive at bus terminals at least an hour before departure, adding that tickets should only be purchased from official ticket booths, to avoid being scammed by con artists selling fraudulent tickets. Alternatively, passengers can book in advance by going to www.tansport.co.th or calling 1490.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Bangkok

More human remains found submerged in metal casket in suspect’s pond

Greeley Pulitzer

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More human remains found submerged in metal casket in suspect’s pond | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Divers retrieve an old casket found a Bangkok pond - Pornprom Satrabhaya

In a story that grows grislier with each new discovery… now an old metal casket with more than 30 human bones has been retrieved from a pond at the Bangkok home of Apichai Ongwisit, dubbed “Ice Heep Lek” (metal casket killer), who has already been charged with murdering his girlfriend and disposing of her corpse on his property.

Nearly 300 human bones have already been retrieved from the lake. At least 40 divers from various agencies participated in the search of the pond in Bang Khae district, west of Bangkok city. The pond, covering about two rai, was split into 14 separate zones for the search. After only 30 minutes divers recovered 10 bones and a knife.

Then around 2:20pm they discovered and brought to the surface an old metal casket containing at least another 30 human bones, including a skull, an eight kilogram dumbbell, a chain, T-shirt and pair of shorts and some rope.

More human remains found submerged in metal casket in suspect's pond | News by The Thaiger

Piya Uthayo, Thailand’s assistant national police chief, were present during the increasingly grisly search. He says the skull and bones might be those of a small woman. The chief of Bangkok’s Metropolitan Police Bureau said the bones appear to belong to a woman over 18 years old.

Police now believe there could be three or more corpses.

Last Friday, divers retrieved the bones from the pond, about five metres away from where they found a human skeleton a week earlier. The skeleton was wrapped in clothes and a bedsheet and hidden under a massive metal object and fastened to dumbbells by chains.

40 year old Apichai Ongwisit was arrested at his house earlier this month after police found the body of 22 year old Warinthorn “Kuk-kik” Chaiyachet from Sakon Nakhon in the northeast.

Apichai has reportedly admitted to killing the woman in August last year. According to local media reports, Apichai used drugs and began an intimate relationship with the woman and soon fell in love with her.

He reportedly ordered her to sleep in a metal casket, which he locked to ensure she did not leave him. When he opened the casket in the morning, he found she had died from suffocation, or so the narrative goes in the Thai media.

31 year old Chanchai Nakhiew-ngam, a former girlfriend of Apichai, told police he has a violent temper and she believes there are more corpses on the grounds of his sprawling, 20 rai property, but denied any involvement in the deaths, according to police.

SOURCE: The Bangkok Post

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Air Pollution

Nearly 300,000 Bangkok school students stay at home today as a measure to reduce air pollution

The Thaiger

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Nearly 300,000 Bangkok school students stay at home today as a measure to reduce air pollution | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Most of Bangkok's public schools closed today - Getty Images

Nearly 300,000 students from 437 schools around Bangkok are having the day off after the Bangkok governor announced they could stay home and avoid the city’s smog. Ironically, today’s city air pollution has reduced to its lowest level in a week.

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration suspended classes at 437 public schools for one day and introduced staggered working hours for city public servants from today, “as airborne PM2.5 dust and smoke is forecast to remain excessive”.

Pongsakorn Kwanmuang, a BMA spokesperson, says the measures are part of city hall’s “four-point plan to cope with worsening air pollution in Bangkok”. He says that officials working at district offices will report to work as normal, adding that the staggered working hours will be ended when pollution has eased. How the staggering of work hours would relieve the pollution problem was not outlined by the spokesperson.

“The class closure, affecting over 280,000 students, will reduce the number of cars on Bangkok’s streets and help ease PM2.5 problem.”

City Hall is also distributing 450,000 free face masks to people in Bangkok.

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Air Pollution

Thai PM mulls private car ban in pollution-stricken areas

Greeley Pulitzer

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Thai PM mulls private car ban in pollution-stricken areas | The Thaiger
PHOTO: The sun sets in Bangkok shrouded by thick smog - Nathaphol Lovakit

“Bangkok’s governor has also signed an order yesterday to close 437 schools in in the city today due to a forecast of higher pollution levels.”

The government is considering a ban on private car use in areas affected by hazardous levels of air pollution. The harsh proposal was unveiled Tuesday by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha after a cabinet meeting in Narathiwat. The PM said only public transport services would be allowed to use the roads during a ban.

“Is that what we want? Do we really have to go that far?”

The severe measure would be employed on a case by case basis to avoid unnecessarily negative impact.

The PM says the government is ready to step in with such measures when ultra-fine PM2.5 dust particles in the air exceed 100 micrograms per cubic metre, twice the national so-called safe limit of ’50’. (PM2.5 is particulate matter 2.5 micrometres or less in diameter suspended in the air)

“If the dust levels rise to more than 100 micrograms, the government will take over all the work and everyone will be affected.”

The PM was responding to questions about calls for tougher measures to deal with sources of the problem and accusations that his government hasn’t done enough. According to the Prime Minister, vehicle exhausts are the primary source of PM2.5, followed by biomass burning and industrial emissions. The specific burins of sugarcane plantations, known to be the largest single cause of the smoke problems, wasn’t addressed.

In areas where the PM2.5 levels rise to between 75 and 100 micrograms per cubic metre, the provincial governor will implement more stringent measures like prohibiting heavy trucks from entering certain areas of the province at certain times.

And if PM2.5 levels go above 100 micrograms the government will step in and may implement even more stringent rules, “which would affect everyone,” according to the PM.

How these measures would play out in reality, and how motorists would be warned of the restrictions wasn’t explained.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa, meanwhile, hinted that if measures against lorries prove inadequate, private cars could be targeted next.

“It has been found that 72% of the PM2.5 dust particles come from traffic emissions.”

The source of the Minister’s claim wasn’t announced at the time he made the statement.

Among the short-term measures to be implemented next in Bangkok is a ban on heavy trucks from entering certain parts of the city on alternate days, possibly in February only.

Bangkok’s governor has also signed an order yesterday to close 437 schools in in the city today due to a forecast of higher pollution levels.

SOURCE: TheBangkok Post | Air Visual

Thai PM mulls private car ban in pollution-stricken areas | News by The Thaiger

GRAPHIC: Air quality has improved around parts of the capital today whilst the fires to the north east and north west are clearly displayed – Air Quality

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