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The mopping up starts in the wake of ‘Doksuri’ in Vietnam

Tanutam Thawan

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The mopping up starts in the wake of ‘Doksuri’ in Vietnam | The Thaiger
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Typhoon Doksuri battered the central coastal areas of Vietnam with strong winds and heavy rains today, causing electrical blackouts, damage to houses and trees being uprooted and thrown around like toothpicks.

The high winds prompted mass evacuations after officials had predicted it could be the ‘most powerful storm in a decade’ to hit Vietnam.

The typhoon made landfall on the north-central coast around Nghe An at 10 this morning (September 15) with wind speeds up to 135 kilometres per hour. Trees were uprooted and authorities cut power in some areas to avoid accidents with many residents remaining at home and choosing to weather the storm.

Up to 400 millimetres of rain soaked the Vietnamese coastline, with possible flooding and landslides being carefully assessed by emergency authorities. Even areas to the north of the central region, as far up as the capital Hanoi, are expecting in excess of 200mm of rain.

One person has reportedly died in Hue province, just north of the seaside resort Da Nang. The man was swept away by a river following heavy rains in the area. A three year old has also been reported injured when the roof was blown off her house whilst she was inside.

Vietnamese air traffic has been thrown into confusion with 60 domestic flights by airlines VietJet, Vietnam Airlines and Jetstar Pacific being cancelled. Schools were closed for the day as authorities tried to evacuate more than 70,000 in the lead up to the storm’s arrival on the central coast.

Typhoon ‘Doksuri’ is the third major storm to smash into Vietnam this year. Last year storms killed 264 people. Vietnam’s central coastline opens to the South China Sea where many of the region’s tropical storms develop and gain power over the warm, tropical seas.

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Local Thai journalist speaking fluent Thai and English. Tanutam studied in Khon Kaen before attending Bangkok’s Chulalongkhorn University.

Tourism

Chinese travellers CAN depart China and travel to Thailand on the STV

Tanutam Thawan

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Chinese travellers CAN depart China and travel to Thailand on the STV | The Thaiger
PHOTO: First tourists arrive under the STV at Suvarnabhumi - TAT

Another day and another day of confusing news and discussion about the Special Tourist Visa and, specifically, the Chinese arrivals. BKK Post posted this yesterday, without clarification.

Chinese travellers CAN depart China and travel to Thailand on the STV | News by The Thaiger

The headline said…

“China says will maintain ban on outbound tours due to virus risk”

The story, whilst not incorrect, confused a lot of readers who thought that meant ALL Chinese travellers and then deduced that the stories about Chinese arrivals on the STV in Bangkok this week must have been ‘bogus’.

The report that outbound Chinese group tours will remain banned by the Chinese Ministry of Culture, due to “concerns around the Covid-19 Coronavirus worldwide”, is true.

But the Chinese have NOT been given special concessions. They are NOT the only people allowed to apply for Thailand’s STV. They are NOT all businessmen coming up to “google up” bargain businesses in Thailand. The arrival of the first Chinese travellers had NOTHING to do with the lifting of the State of Emergency in Bangkok (there was any array of other comments and conspiracy theories offered following the BKK Post article).

To clarify, only Chinese operated and owned tour companies remain banned from organising tour group travel. Individual travellers, tourists or privately organised “groups” by citizens or companies and organisations from other countries are allowed to depart China under the current arrangements.

There is no blanket ban on departure for Chinese citizens, although there are restrictions. During 2019, most Chinese arrivals were FIT (free and independent travellers), not on tour groups. 27% of all international arrivals in 2019 were from China.

Thai officials maintain that the Chinese travellers and tourists are being tested, quarantined and tracked (via and app) whilst they are in Thailand and that they are being given no special dispensations. Most have organised their own bookings, including ASQ (quarantine) and then around the country. Some have booked onward travel to Phuket and Chiang Mai following their 14 day quarantine in Bangkok.

The first 39 travellers arrived this week from Shanghai, mostly Chinese nationals and some returning Thais. They are the first ‘tourists’ to arrive in Thailand since the borders were closed in March.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand News Today | State of Emergency lifted, Quarantine latest, Phuket Light Rail | October 22

Tanutam Thawan

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Thailand News Today | State of Emergency lifted, Quarantine latest, Phuket Light Rail | October 22 | The Thaiger

Today’s latest news and information about Thailand. Like and subscribe to our YouTube channel too. Go on, right now 🙂 You can also LIKE our Facebook page https://facebook.com/thethaigernews to get even more information about Thailand.

Government lifts Bangkok’s State of Emergency

Bangkok’s State of Emergency has been lifted, according to a statement published in the Royal Gazette, making it official.

The order, that banned public gatherings over 5 people, and censoring critical media commentary, was imposed last Thursday morning by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, leading to the breaking up a protest and the arrests of a number of activists.

Despite the State of Emergency, protesters ignored the orders and rallies only grew over the past week.

The emergency order also banned content on websites and social media considered to be a “threat to national security.” Some Thai media outlets covering the protests were under fire, and authorities tried to suspend them under the emergency order. The court dismissed the requests to block those media companies, saying the Thai Constitution does not give the court power to shut down media platforms.

Large protest group amassed at Government House

The lifting of the State Emergency follows two key events last night.

A large, prepared protest group that marched on Government House demanding the resignation of the Thai PM – they even prepared a letter for him all ready to sign. Police had 2 buses, barbed wire and water cannon trucks, along with riot police, awaiting them. Both sides seemed poised for a confrontation but protests leaders peacefully dispersed the crowd at 9.35pm. The other was an address on national TV by Prayut Chan-o-cha, asking protesters to stand down and participate in dialogue with the government.

Negative Covid-19 results for first group on the Special Tourist Visa

Surely, the most anticipated and followed tourists ever to grace Thailand’s shores. All 39 visitors who flew in from China this week on the new Special Tourist Visa have tested negative for Covid-19. While it’s a small group, they’re the first foreign tourists to arrive since travel restrictions were imposed in late-March.

More international tourists are expected to arrive next week under the auspices of the new Special Tourist Visa. If there are no positive Covid-19 cases in the first groups, the government says they could start to lift restrictions, like cutting down the mandatory quarantine period, or allowing more applicants under the STV.

Groups from China and Scandanavian countries are the next arrivals under the STV in the next few weeks.

Health Minister says quarantine could be reduced to 10 days, maybe eventually zero

Health officials have confirmed that they are ready to reduce the mandatory quarantine period for foreign tourists, provided other relevant bodies agree.

The current quarantine period is set at 14 days, but the Public Health Minister says this could be reduced to 10. He adds that if the reduction is successful, quarantine could be further reduced, eventually reaching a point where quarantine is no longer a requirement.

“The truth is, the Public Health Ministry is ready for the change, but other relevant agencies still have requested time to adjust. So, we have to wait and work together.”

4.4 million methamphetamine pills seized near Laos border

Police seized 4.4 million methamphetamine pills worth more than 400 million baht after a police chase in the northeast near the Thai-Laos border.

Thai media reports that the alleged drug traffickers threw black bags full of the drugs out onto the road during the police chase and drove off into a rubber farm in the Bung Kla district.

Police had received a tip about drugs allegedly being trafficked across the Mekong River and were tracking a truck driving fast by the river.

Police searched the bags which contained over 4 million methamphetamine pills. Police also found 2,970 ecstasy pills.

Since October 1, the Royal Thai Navy has been involved in 18 drug trafficking busts, seizing methamphetamine, ecstasy, heroin and marijuana, totalling around 2.7 billion baht.

Phuket light rail study goes to Cabinet for approval

The Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand has approved the findings of a study on Phase 1 development of a light rail system in Phuket.

The first phase, budgeted at 35 billion baht, will run 42 kilometres from Phuket Airport to Chalong intersection.

The findings of the study will be tabled in the Cabinet in 12 months time. If approved, bidding for joint investment will begin in early 2022, with trams expected to start running in 2026.

The service will have 21 stations, of which 19 will be at ground level, one at elevated level and one underground.

Critics say the route won’t do much to benefit local communities and that the main Thepkasattri Road artery will be severely disrupted during the years of construction.

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Crime

Expat in Koh Samui Prison on drug charges, nearly $3,000 raised to get her out

Caitlin Ashworth

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Expat in Koh Samui Prison on drug charges, nearly $3,000 raised to get her out | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Facebook: Ashley Oosthuizen

A 21 year old South African woman is locked in Thai prison after she allegedly signed for a package containing 250 grams of MDMA, an ingredient in ecstasy, according to a GoFundMe account. People say she’s innocent and have raised $2,966 USD to get her out. She’s apparently facing drug charges that carry life imprisonment.

Ashley Oosthuizen has been living in Thailand for more than 2 years. She worked as a teacher at an international school in Koh Samui, according to her Facebook page. The GoFundMe page says Ashley started Hot in the Biscuit, a breakfast and brunch restaurant on the island.

“She is well known in the community and liked by all who meet her. She is truly a wonderful human being with a heart of gold.”

While Ashley was at work, a package was delivered and addressed to her former boss. She signed for the package, but didn’t open it and set it aside. Later, the police raided the shop and searched the package, finding 250 grams of MDMA, according to the GoFundMe page.

Apparently, Ashley was arrested and charged with importation with intent to distribute a Category 1 narcotic. Importing a Category 1 substances carries a penalty of up to life imprisonment and a fine of 1 million to 5 million baht under Thailand’s Narcotics Act.

“The case against her is absolutely horrible – there is no evidence excepting the unopened package addressed to her former friend but because the package contained 250 grams of drug they are holding her as the one responsible.”

The GoFundMe page says Ashley was drug tested and came out negative. Her friends say they expect the case to be dismissed, but say Thai courts move “painfully slow” and they don’t want Ashley spending time behind bars waiting for a court date.

“Thai prisons are not like Western prisons. She cannot stay there so long. She is only 21 years old. She is an innocent victim.”

To donate to the GoFundMe account, or to read about Ashley’s story, click HERE.

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