Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Floods close factories; Laos crash bodies to return home; Chalerm in relapse; Jakkrit mourned

Thailand news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Industrial estate battles floodwater
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The Amata Nakorn Industrial Estate in Chon Buri is facing a severe battle keeping out floodwaters, which have forced 15 factories in its compound to suspend operations.

Another 78 factories outside the protection of estates, mainly in the Northeast, have reportedly been inundated.

The factories in the Amata Nakorn estate are not under water, but have been temporarily closed because of the difficulties their employees are having getting to work.

Some public areas within the estate are inundated. The highest floodwater level is between 30 and 40 centimetres.

“We expect to drain all floodwater from the estate within one or two days, if no more rain comes,” Amata Corporation’s chief marketing officer Viboon Kromadit said yesterday.

With support from various agencies, more than 100 pumps are working hard to clear all the floodwater. Some 43 boats have also been commissioned to help facilitate the flow of water out of the estate.

Amata Corporation operates the Amata Nakorn estate.

Royal Irrigation Department deputy director-general Suthep Noipairoj said the industrial estate was located in a low-lying area that was prone to take in run-off water from nearby areas.

Suthep said that water drainage would need to be done carefully out of concern for local communities already struggling with floods in the face of high tides. “The industrial estate and authorities will have to minimise the impact on these communities,” he said.

Meanwhile, Industry Ministry inspector-general Panithan Jindaphu said 78 factories outside the industrial estates had been flooded, mostly in the Northeast. He calculated the combined damage at about Bt85 million.

Of the total, 70 are small-scale businesses and eight are medium-sized.

These factories are located in 12 provinces: 11 in Ubon Ratchathani, 16 in Si Sa Ket, 13 in Nakhon Nayok, seven in Prachin Buri, five each in Chanthaburi and Chaiyaphum, six in Angthong, eight in Sa Kaew, two in Buri Ram, three in Nakhon Ratchasima and one each in Ayutthaya and Chachoengsao.

“Remedial measures will include waivers of licensing fees. We will also discuss with other agencies the offering of soft loans, as was done in 2011,” Panithan said.

First bodies from plane crash coming back today
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The bodies of three Thai men killed in last week’s Lao Airlines plane crash near Pakse will be transferred back to Thailand today, officials have said.

The three bodies will be flown back from Laos to Bangkok by a Thai government C130 plane, which will first drop Navy frogmen at U-tapao in Rayong province. The men were killed when the plane crashed on October 16 into the Mekong River in Champasak province in Laos.

The bodies of Phakkhawat Atiratanachai, Kamueng Chartkasemchai and Veekij Busarawuthanusorn will arrive in Bangkok by 4pm, officials said yesterday.

Five Thais died in the crash, but the other two deceased have yet to be identified. Officials in Laos are still awaiting the results of DNA tests.

The five Thais were among 44 passengers and five crew on the ill-fated Lao Airlines plane, which crashed into the Mekong during stormy weather on its approach to Pakse airport.

Meanwhile, there were indications late yesterday that search teams may have picked up signals from the plane’s black box, which could reveal the causes of the tragedy.

Divers were reportedly trying to retrieve the flight data recorder from an area about 400 metres from the crash site, but were battling with the strong current and muddy water. The river is thought to be about 12 to 13 metres deep in that section.

Foreign Minister Surapong Towichukchaikul said the Thai Consulate in Savannakhet, Laos, had informed him that Laos’ public works and transport minister had told Thai officials to end their search for bodies yesterday, as there were just a small number to be recovered and Laotian authorities could handle that task from now on.

Department of Information chief Sek Wannamethee said Laotian officials still wanted six Thai forensic experts to stay for a few more days to help them identify the 42 bodies that have been recovered. To date, only 16 have been officially identified – two of these were the Thai bodies coming back today.

Government offices in Laos observed a minute’s silence yesterday to pay tribute to the 49 people who died last week in the plane crash, state media said. The government instructed state officials to hold the event at 2.15pm, The |Vientiane Times and state-run radio reported.

Chalerm collapses again
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Labour Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung collapsed in his office at the Labour Ministry yesterday afternoon and was rushed to hospital.

He was talking to Pol General Pongsapat Pongcharoen, the secretary-general of the Office of Narcotics Control Board, about organising a meeting for drug suppression when he collapsed. He was rushed to Ramathibodi Hospital at 1.45pm. Chalerm had just returned to work for a week after undergoing an operation for bleeding on the brain.

Dr Surasak Leelaudomlipi, director of Ramathibodi Hospital, said that though Chalerm’s fists were clenched, he could talk to the doctors and interact with them normally.

Chalerm will be kept in hospital for observation.

Grenades fired at district chief’s home in Pattani
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Suspected insurgents fired M79 grenades from mountainous woods at the home of Pattani’s Ma Yor district chief on Sunday night but no one was injured.

The first grenade damaged the wall of a pavilion near the house while the second grenade hit a tree.

Police inspected the scene yesterday. They said district chief Supol Phokaew had returned from inspecting sub-district election booths and was in the house when the grenades were fired.

Inquiries revealed that district chiefs have been targeted for years, such as a 2008 incident in which then district chief Wirat Prasetso and several other officials were injured in a bomb attack in Krasoh sub-district. Last year M79 grenades were fired at the home of then district chief Pisal Awae – but missed, and on February 4 Pisal was ambushed by gunmen while going to work but emerged unharmed.

Shock, dismay at shooter’s slaying
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The Thai sports fraternity is mourning the death of national sharpshooter Jakkrit “X” Panichpatikum.

Famous athletes have joined fans and journalists in posting tributes on Twitter and Facebook, after pistol shooter Jakkrit was shot in his Porsche by a gunman on a motorbike on Saturday evening in Bangkok’s Sukhapiban 3 area while on his way to meet his family for dinner.

“I got to know him during a trip back from the London Olympics. That was the first time we met, but I never thought it w

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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