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Government officials wear black today, Korat residents grieve

The Thaiger

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Government officials wear black today, Korat residents grieve | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Buddhist monks lead candlelight vigils in downtown Korat as a city grieves - Reuters
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Thailand’s cabinet ministers and officials at Government House will be wearing black clothing today as the Kingdom wakes to the first full work day since the Korat massacre – a mass shooting that has left at least 30 people dead, including the gunman.

Government officials will officially mourn the innocent people killed in the north-eastern province of Nakhon Ratchasima and the main town of Korat on Saturday evening. More than 50 were injured and many remain in hospital. The Nakhon Ratchasima Governor Wichien Chanthanothai reported yesterday that nine of the injured people remain in a critical condition, with three still in a coma.

Locals have been flocking to the site of the mass shooting Sunday night and all yesterday offering gestures of flowers and cards. Terminal 21, the largest shopping centre in the town of about 150,000 residents, was the site of the 32 year old gunman’s last stand. In what started as an angry response to a land deal-gone-wrong around 3.30pm on Saturday afternoon, finished with an elite military response squad taking the gunman out at 9am the next morning, after a night of tense negotiations holed up inside the shopping mall.

A brief religious ceremony was held in front of the mall by the family of a 25 year old man, who had just stepped out of his SUV in front of the mall when he was shot dead by the gunman who arrived at the scene in a stolen Humvee. A 13 year old motorcyclist, who was just riding past the mall at the same time, was also shot in the head by the gunman whose intent at that stage was to clearly kill and mame as many people as he could.

About 5,000 residents also attended a spontaneous candle-lit prayer ceremony on Sunday night, in the square near the Thao Suranaree statue in memory of those who died. People chanted prayers along with a groups of Buddhist priests leading funeral rites. They were holding candles in one hand and pointing to the sky with the other, a gesture Buddhists believe directs souls to heaven.

Officials, as reported by the Thai PM on Sunday afternoon, say the assailant was aggrieved about a financial dispute involving land deal commissions. He first killed his 48 year old commanding officer and then the officer’s 68 year old mother-in-law. He then seized several assault weapons and ammunition from his army barracks. He opened fire and injured at least three soldiers before stealing an army-style Humvee, driving to a nearby temple and shooting more people there, then driving the 14 kilometres to central Korat and the shopping centre where he terrorised and shot shoppers and workers in the mall.

Gun ownership is prevalent in Thailand with people shot in low-key squirmishes frequently, but mass shootings are extremely rare. The horrifying incident in Nakhon Ratchasima comes just a month after another mall shooting at a gold shop in the central Thai province of Lopburi. In that case a masked gunman carrying a handgun and silencer killed three people, including a 2 year old boy, and shot four others during a robbery. The school principal was subsequently arrested and awaits trial.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

Government officials wear black today, Korat residents grieve | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: ibtimes.com

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Thailand

Rare sighting of an endangered clouded leopard at Isaan mountain range

Caitlin Ashworth

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Rare sighting of an endangered clouded leopard at Isaan mountain range | The Thaiger
Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation

An endangered clouded leopard was spotted at a mountain range in the Isaan province Si Sa Ket. The rare sighting, captured using a camera trap, was the first time in about 20 years the wildcat has been seen in the Phnom Dongrak mountain range which borders Cambodia.

Since the park rangers stepped up patrol against poaching and made efforts to increase food and water sources, more small predators like foxes, dholes and leopard cats have been returning to the area, according to director of a local conservation office Chaiwat Limlikhit-aksorn.

“Today in the Phanom Dong Rak Wildlife Sanctuary there is a clouded leopard, which is a medium sized predator.”

Camera traps were set up by local conservation officials from November 1 to 24, capturing footage of the rare clouded leopard. The cameras also filmed hog deer, Asiatic wild dogs, a Malaysian night heron and a leopard.

The clouded leopard is classified as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The organisation says the leopard is hunted for the illegal wildlife, adding that the leopard skins have been seen in market surveys along with bones used for medicines and meat for exotic dishes.

Clouded Leopard exploitation for pelts are well documented in several countries, including the infamous Tachilek market along the Thai–Myanmar border. The frequency of Clouded Leopard parts available at market indicates increased pressure from hunting…However, the trade of cat parts from Myanmar into Thailand has diminished and reaffirms the role of China in the trade of cats out of Myanmar.

Sightings of the clouded leopard have also been reported at the Kaeng Krachan National Park, Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary, Khao Sok National Park and Khao Yai National Park.

SOURCES: Bangkok Post | IUCN| Thai PBS

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Transport

State Railway officials sign 5 high-speed rail contracts as part of project linking Thailand and China

Maya Taylor

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State Railway officials sign 5 high-speed rail contracts as part of project linking Thailand and China | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Wei Kakurai / Wikimedia

Officials from the State Railway of Thailand have signed 5 high-speed rail contracts worth more than 40 billion baht, in the latest development in the Thailand – China rail connection. It’s understood the contracts cover phase 1 of the railway, from Bangkok to the north-eastern city of Nakhon Ratchasima (Korat).

It’s hoped that section will carry its first passengers in 2023 and that the line will eventually reach further north, to Nong Khai, and from there, link with a rail connection connecting Laos and China. The high-speed trains will run at speeds up to 250 kilometres an hour.

Nation Thailand reports that the contract signing took place at the Transport Ministry, between SRT governor Nirut Maneephan and the 5 contractors, Nawarat Patanakarn, Thai Engineer Industry, Italian – Thai Development, SPTK Joint Venture, and Civil Engineering. In total, the project will involve over 100 kilometres of railway, with a budget of 40.275 billion baht. The first phase of construction involves 14 contracts, with work under the first one completed and ongoing under the second.

Nirut say the 5 new contractors are expected to take delivery of the land in early 2021, with the 7 remaining contracts being signed next year.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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North East

Monk dies after jumping in front of speeding train in north-east Thailand

Maya Taylor

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Monk dies after jumping in front of speeding train in north-east Thailand | The Thaiger
PHOTO: www.one31.net

A monk has died after jumping on to rail tracks and into the path of an approaching train in the north-eastern province of Si Sa Ket, near the Cambodian border. The incident occurred at a provincial train station in front of horrified witnesses at around 10.30am yesterday.

According to a Nation Thailand report, police say the 55 year old’s body was dismembered in the incident. Witnesses report that he jumped onto the tracks and stood with his arms open, in the path of an oncoming train. They say there was no time to save him. Police have launched an investigation to determine the motive behind the monk’s suicide.

If you or anyone you know is in emotional distress, please contact the Samaritans of Thailand 24-hour hotline: 02 713 6791 (English), 02 713 6793 (Thai) or the Thai Mental Health Hotline at 1323 (Thai).

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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