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Rohingya woman dead, dozens of children among 98 trafficking victims

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– Thailand news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Rohingya woman dead, dozens of children among 98 trafficking victims
Reuters / The Nation

PHUKET: One woman was found dead in the back of one of five vehicles being used to traffick 98 Rohingya through Phang Nga, north of Phuket, and were intercepted by police in Nakhon Sri Thammarat yesterday.

Dozens of children – 42 boys and girls under the age of 14 – were also among the suspected trafficking victims from Myanmar, police said today as more checkpoints were set up in the region to combat the trade.

Two Thai drivers suspected of trafficking the Rohingya, a mostly stateless Muslim minority from western Myanmar, were being interrogated, said Capt Somporn Thongcheen, a deputy inspector for Hua Sai district, where the group was found.

The officers who intercepted the five vehicles, including three pick-up trucks, at a checkpoint in Hua Sai district discovered dozens of “very thin and tired men, women and children”.

“This is our first discovery of a group of Rohingya that suggests that smuggling in this region might have increased in recent years,” said Capt Somporn.

The refugees were being held in a government shelter in Hua Sai. If police follow the usual routine, they will be sent back to Myanmar or could languish in a shelter for months before the government decides what to do with them.

Thailand is ranked one of the world’s worst centers of human trafficking. It was downgraded to the lowest “Tier 3” status last June on the US State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report for not fully complying with minimum standards for its elimination.

Last week, Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha said his government would step up measures against human trafficking as the country scrambles to improve its record.

A Reuters special report (story here) suggested trafficking routes in Thailand were thriving, with some Rohingya held for ransom by trafficking gangs at jungle camps near the border with Malaysia until relatives pay – usually several thousands dollars – for their release.

Interrogation of the two Thai drivers suggested the trucks were heading for Songkhla, near the Thai-Malaysian border, Capt Somporn said.

Tens of thousands of Rohingya have fled Myanmar since 2012, when violent clashes with ethnic Rakhine Buddhists killed hundreds and made about 140,000 homeless.

Authorities in Southern Thailand have increased road checkpoints to try to intercept smugglers, said Manit Pianthong, chief of Takuapa district in Phang Nga province.

“The scale of the smuggling problem in this region is big,” said Mr Manit. “These road checkpoints are one way of intercepting smugglers.”

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Drugs

2 million methamphetamine pills found in parked truck

Caitlin Ashworth

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2 million methamphetamine pills found in parked truck | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Line Today

Police found more than 2 million methamphetamine pills in a truck parked at petrol station at Prachuap Khiri Khan’s Bang Saphan Noy district. Police are still looking for the driver.

The Narcotics Suppression Bureau alerted local police about a truck in the area suspected of trafficking drugs. Police spotted a truck that matched the description and saw it turning in to a petrol station.

Police followed, but by the time they reached the vehicle, it was parked and the driver was no where in sight. Officers suspect the driver fled the scene.

The truck had a number of cardboard boxes containing thousands of methamphetamine pills. Police say all together they seized 2,002,000 pills. They also found a bank deposit passbook, 2 identification cards and other documents. The evidence was passed on to the Narcotics Suppression Bureau who are now working on the case.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Hua Hin

Hua Hin schools close after students get fever, families crossed Myanmar border

Caitlin Ashworth

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Hua Hin schools close after students get fever, families crossed Myanmar border | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai PBS

Class is cancelled for a week at 2 schools after some students reported a high fever. School officials discovered many Burmese students and parents have been crossing the Thai-Myanmar border. The Thai government recently told immigration police to patrol the country’s natural borders such as along jungles and rivers after Myanmar reported a spike in coronavirus cases.

The 2 Prachuap Khiri Khan schools – Anun School and Wang Ta Krai School – will be closed until at least September 7. Some of the students need to quarantine for 14 days before returning to school. Public health officials have taken fluid samples to test for Covid-19. The results have not yet been released at this stage.

The province is on the Malay peninsula and borders Myanmar’s Tanintharyi region. The community has a large Burmese population. Out of the 576 students at Anun School, 300 of them are migrants. Out of the 310 students at the Wang Ta Krai School, 45 of them are migrants.

When students from the Anun School students did not show up in class due to high fever, school officials looked into their case and learned that their families had recently returned from areas around the Thai-Myanmar border. Wang Ta Krai School has not reported any suspected cases.

Most of the cases in the recent spike in Myanmar involve the western Rhakine state, on the other side of Myanmar from the Thai border.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Tourism

Air Asia and VietJet add some extra domestic routes

The Thaiger

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Air Asia and VietJet add some extra domestic routes | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai VietJet adds a BKK-Nakhon Si Thammarat flight to their schedule

Whilst much of the world waits to get back into Thailand, the local airlines are starting to flex their domestic muscles and add new routes.

Thai AirAsia is launching 2 new routes from Chiang Mai, starting yesterday, offering a one-way fare for as low as 790 baht on flights to Hua Hin, and Udon Thani in the northeast. The cheapie fares will only run until August 16, or when they’re booked out. The fares will cover travel from today up to March 26 next year.

Thai Air Asia is attempting to bump up its direct domestic travel from Chiang Mai that will avoid doing a stop-over in Bangkok for these new routes.

The new flight from Chiang Mai to the coastal town of Hua Hin is targeting Thais and expats living in the north who want a seaside break and couldn’t be bothered sitting in a bus for 24 hours.

The bi-weekly flights depart every Friday and Sunday which gives travellers at both ends of the route an excuse for weekend travel. Thai Air Asia are now servicing 30 domestic routes that started again in May when Thai-registered airlines restarted limited domestic services.

But the locally-based airlines are still not allowed to fly internationally, and, based on comments from the TAT, that may not happen until early 2021. A deputy governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand said last Friday there was “no signs to show international tourism would reopen this year and even Chinese New Year in February 2021 was now in jeopardy… It is not a rosy picture.”

Air Asia and VietJet add some extra domestic routes | News by The Thaiger

 

Meanwhile Thai Vietjet has started a new service from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport to Nakhon Si Thammarat in Thailand’s Deep South.

The first flight landed over the weekend to a water salute welcome at Nakhon Si Thammarat Airport. Thai Vietjet’s latest service into southern Thailand operates daily but they’re hoping to ramp up to four flights a day in October.

A promotional fare of just 199 baht, excluding tax and fees, is on sale at www.vietjetair.com.

Air Asia and VietJet add some extra domestic routes | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: TTRWeekly

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