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Chiang Rai: UK cave-diving experts get to work. US providing rescue equipment.

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Chiang Rai: UK cave-diving experts get to work. US providing rescue equipment. | The Thaiger

International experts have arrived in the last 24 hours to add to the level of expertise as every effort continues to be made to rescue 12 young footballers and their deputy coach trapped for five nights in the Tham Luang Cave in Chiang Rai province.

Three cave-diving experts from the UK arrived on the scene yesterday to help locate the teens, who are players of the local Mu Pa Academy football club. The team entered the country’s fourth-longest cave in Mae Sai district on Saturday with their 25 year old deputy coach, Ekkapon Intawongse. According to early reports they had basic provisions and a first aid kit. This was not the first time they had gone to the cave.

It is believed that they may have failed to leave the cave before a flash flood arrived, inundating a huge part of the cave.

The three foreign experts – Robert Harper, John Volamthen and Richard Stanton – arrived in Chiang Rai on Tuesday evening. The British cave-divers, who have previously explored the site, arrived on June 27 to join about 1,000 Thai soldiers, navy SEAL divers, police and park rangers at the mud-slicked site in the northern province of Chiang Rai.

Thai Airways International sponsored the travel of the experienced underwater cave rescuers, who boarded a flight out of London on Tuesday night.

“We have already talked to them online about the nature of the challenges,” said Chiang Rai Governor Narongsak Osottanakorn.

Chiang Rai: UK cave-diving experts get to work. US providing rescue equipment. | News by The Thaiger

At present, a total of 12 rescue teams are in action, using a variety of approaches in the hope of saving the missing youths. Efforts were on yesterday to find an accessible hole from the top of the cave, to enter the deeper reaches that rescue teams have not been able to from the main entrance.

Meanwhile, the US-Indo Pacific Command has dispatched a team of Navy officers and disaster experts to assist with the operation. Weerasak said that the US would also arrange for the dispatch of equipment required for the rescue from Okinawa.

Yesterday, the main difficulty confronting divers led by the Navy’s SEAL unit was the increasing water level in the cave following continuous rains. The divers have had to swim through muddy waters in the cave that is full of stalagmites and stalactites.

Yesterday, the SEALs, tried to reach “Pattaya Beach” in the cave where it is believed the youths may have taken refuge. The Army has deployed more than 1,000 personnel to survey waterways and to build blockages in an attempt to decrease the flow of water into the cave. Yesterday they erected check dams to divert water from the Pa Mee Cliff from travelling into the cave system.

Local people in the area expressed readiness to let their houses be flooded as a result of water being pumped out of the cave, saying they were willing to cooperate in the efforts to find the youths.

Interior Minister General Anupong Paochinda added that hundreds of local, military and rescue officers have been deployed for the search operation. Anupong, however, warned that it was a race against time as rainwater was flooding the limestone caves despite water being pumped out. He said larger water pumps could not be taken into the cave because of the narrow entrance. Heavy fog also surrounded the cave, preventing helicopters from flying above.

Chiang Rai: UK cave-diving experts get to work. US providing rescue equipment. | News by The Thaiger

Rescuers spent all of Tuesday laying electric wires underwater to enable five water pumps to function. Some pumps also were placed outside to decrease the water level around the cave. He believed, however, that the missing people would not have gone too far from the entrance to evade the flood and they should have their flashlights with them.

“With varying depth and the lack of light, even divers with oxygen tanks are having a hard time exploring the cave at some points. In order to dive efficiently, they need some air between the water surface and the cave ceiling,” the minister said.

“More search crews will be deployed in addition to the divers. There should be those rappelling down from a nearby cliff and drills should work their way down through some cavities,” he said.

The Energy Ministry will supply the drills while the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry would supply X-ray machines to help scan the cave, he said.

HM King Maha Vajiralongkorn said, through his royal spokesperson, that the search operation should be carried out in the best possible way in the interests of the missing persons, their families and also the rescuers, PMGeneral Prayut Chan-o-cha said yesterday.

“His Majesty is closely following the situation.”

Government Spokesman Lt-General Sansern Kaewkamnerd said Prayut had also showed the King’s handwritten message expressing his concern over the missing youths during the Cabinet meeting yesterday.

An operation command has been set up to integrate the search force, the premier said. Headed by the provincial governor, the command would consist of the police, the military and civil officers and work on the rescue, media centre, housing for the victims’ families and food supply

“They are sportsmen. I’m certain they are tough enough to survive and wait for the rescue,” the PM said.

Chiang Rai: UK cave-diving experts get to work. US providing rescue equipment. | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: The Nation

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ASEAN

Human hair trade exploits ASEAN women

Greeley Pulitzer

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Human hair trade exploits ASEAN women | The Thaiger

Hair extensions have become an essential part of the multi-billion-dollar hair industry, with estimated annual sales of 250 million to over 1 billion USD. Based on a 2018 Research and Markets report, the global hair, wigs and extension market is expected to surpass 10 billion USD by 2023.

Raw human hair has significant commercial value: it’s a coveted commodity to be processed into hair extensions and wigs. According to a report by the Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC), the global value for human hair exports in 2017 was 126 million USD. Asia exported 72.4 million USD, accounting for 58 percent of the global trade.

In India, the Tirupati Balaji temple earns 10 percent of its income through auctioning hair donated by devotees, raking in a profit of 25 million to 40 million USD annually.

There are three categories for collected hair: Remy, non-Remy and virgin hair. Remy is usually obtained from temple donations and is of the highest grade. Non-Remy hair is a lower grade, collected from individuals, and is typically broken or short. Virgin hairhas never been chemically treated.

In Southeast Asia, long hair is esteemed as a mark of beauty with deep religious and social meaning, especially in Buddhist countries. While most brands opt to acquire hair from India where it’s donated for religious reasons, in Southeast Asia, traders target impoverished areas to buy hair from desperately poor people whose poverty makes them easy prey. Hair extensions in the US can cost 500 to 2000 USD, but the owner of the hair usually receives only a fraction of that. For example, Nguyen Thi Thuy of Vietnam says the highest she has ever been offered for her hair is 70,000 Vietnamese dong, or 3 USD. Pheng Sreyvy from Cambodia fared slightly better at 15 USD for her locks.

According to the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association, women don’t know how to bargain over the price of hair. “They decided to sell their hair because they are poor, and they don’t know where to sell their hair for international market price,” a spokeswoman said.

The high value of human hair has made hair-theft muggings a recurrent problem in some countries, and some companies have resorted to chemical processing or a mixture of human and goat hair.

Increased awareness of exploitation has prompted many companies to collect hair from more transparent and ethical sources. While the human hair trade has provided many communities with income and opportunities, practices that exploit and deprive women of opportunities continue.

SOURCE: theaseanpost.com

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Expats

Thailand’s immigration police catch thousands of overstayers thanks to airport biometrics

May Taylor

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Thailand’s immigration police catch thousands of overstayers thanks to airport biometrics | The Thaiger

The chief of Thailand’s immigration police says the biometrics system in place at sixteen airports across the country has so far netted 1,000 people who are blacklisted or on watch lists, 700 who have arrest warrants out for them, and 45,000 who have overstayed in the country.

The Nation reports that the system is also used to detect fake passports as it uses UV and infrared light to compare the information stored in a chip in the passport with facial features.

It’s understood that in just three days, police were able to arrest 8,000 people for being in possession of fake passports, illegal immigration, overstaying their visas or criminals with arrest warrants out for their capture.

The notorious fake billionaire who married in a lavish ceremony costing over 3.5 million baht and then left his wife to pick up the tab, was recently arrested at Bangkok’s Don Muang Airport after being caught by the biometrics system. See story HERE.

SOURCE: nationthailand.com

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ASEAN

Thai Airways announces cancellation of six routes to four ASEAN destinations

May Taylor

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Thai Airways announces cancellation of six routes to four ASEAN destinations | The Thaiger

The President of Thai Airways International says the airline is set to cancel six flight routes to Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Myanmar.

The Nation reports that Sumeth Damrongchaitham says the routes in question are all from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport to Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Phnom Penh, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh and Yangon.

“These routes are all covered by a small number of flights and have low customer capacity. Once the cancellation plan is finalised, THAI will assign Thai Smile Airways to cover these routes instead.”

Sumeth cites increased competition as the reason behind the decision and the difficulties presented by rival airlines slashing prices to remain ahead of competitors.

“THAI needs to adjust our strategies too to preserve our reservation rate. We will focus on rolling out promotional campaigns until year end. However, next year’s strategy remains to be seen. Our prices this year have been reduced to a record low and if this strategy doesn’t work, we may take a different direction, such as seeking more partners for organisation tickets, increasing online channels, or giving privileges to frequent fliers.”

SOURCE: nationthailand.com

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