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41 dead. Hopes fade for remaining 15 missing.

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Rescuers are aiming to have a go at raising the wreck of ‘Phoenix’ today.

Divers, mostly volunteers, have been confronted with a scene of horror as they defended 47 metres off the coast of Koh Hei into the wreckage of ‘Phoenix’. They reported seeing mothers still holding they babies, bodies suspended in the lower lounge are of the sunken boat.

At least 41 people are now confirmed as dead. 15 are still missing with hopes fading that any more survivors will be found.

Phuket’s professional diving contingent was thin on the ground on Friday morning when the call went out for help in a frantic search for survivors from the Thursday evening disaster. But many of the island’s professionals were already in Chiang Rai, helping in the international rescue attempt at the Tham Luang caves.

One local diver who assisted with the recovery mission, who asked not to be named, says “the morning after the event a call went out on the expat diving groups for volunteers to help recover bodies, especially those with technical diving experience (recreational divers, even instructors cannot and do not typically dive below 40 metres, and the wreck sits at 47 metres).”

“The volunteers were all expats with very mixed backgrounds and nationalities, ages. The depth made the operation more difficult, because it requires divers with spefic skills and experience – overhead environments and more complicated diving.”

Late yesterday afternoon the underwater search was stopped. The Royal Thai Navy say that they are taking over the remaining search and retrieval activities. Rear Admiral Charoenphone Khumrasee is reported in AFP saying that “the rest of the bodies would surface naturally.”

48 passenger, the crew and the boat’s captain, were able to get off the boat before it sank on Thursday night. The captain of the Phoenix and also the Serenata (the other boat that sank, but with no casualties), have already been charged with “negligence leading to damages, injury and death” as the investigation begins.

 

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Thailand

Education program ends September, 1,964 teachers face layoffs

Neill Fronde

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FILE PHOTO: Laying off 1,964 teachers in September may cause an education shortage.

Nearly 2,000 maths and science teachers are calling upon the Education Ministry to help them avoid layoffs in September. The teachers were hired in 2018 under a special project by the Office of the Basic Education Commission to improve maths and science teaching standards in Thailand. Now 1,964 teachers may face unemployment if action is not taken.

The OBEC had planned to cut funding to this project, essentially rendering the positions redundant and leaving a few thousand teachers unemployed. After recently being briefed on the plan, these nearly 2,000 teachers filed a petition with the Education Minister today asking for action to avoid the coming layoffs. The president of the People’s Sector Network Against Corruption rallied on their behalf, joining the teacher group’s representatives in filing the petition.

The president of the PSNAC and the group of teachers argued that the layoffs resulting from defunding the program would be detrimental to the quality of education students will receive in Thailand. They also mentioned that many schools would experience a lack of available and qualified teachers.

Facing layoffs of the 1,964 teachers at stake and only a few months to reach a resolution, the teacher group submitted the petition along with several proposals to try to resolve the issue. They requested that the OBEC put off the plan to hire new maths and science teachers until after Thailand recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The teachers also asked the OBEC to simply reconsider and withdraw the planned layoffs for the teachers in light of the current economic crisis caused by the Coronavirus. Finally, they proposed an extension of the current education program so instead of an end date this September, it would be continued until September 2023.

Education Minister Treenuch Thienthong was reported to have received the petition against the teachers’ layoffs and pledged to request that the OBEC revisits and revises its decision.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Thailand

Thailand News Today | Promise to vaccinate expats, Thailand “electric vehicle hub” | May 6

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Thailand’s Food and Drug Administration has denied that the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine is already in Thailand, The Thai government has ambitious plans to turn the Kingdom into a Southeast Asian hub for the manufacture of electric vehicles., The Thai Hotels Association is urging the government to extend the domestic travel stimulus schemes, set to end on September 30 and Thai Meteorological Department is warning of thunderstorms around the country, particularly in northern and North East Thailand, until the end of tomorrow.

 

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Protests

Activist Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul granted bail

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul is finally free on bail. (via Wikimedia)

Jailed student activist leader Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul has been granted bail of 200,000 baht today after repeated denials of bail requests over the last 2 months. Rung was detained on charges using Thailand’s strict lese majeste laws that carry a 15-year maximum sentence for insulting the royal monarchy and has been held without bail since March 8.

She joined her fellow activist leader Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak on March 30 in his hunger strike to protest the bail denials. Penguin was recently hospitalised over health concerns due to his hunger strike that began March 16.

Rung was granted bail just after 5 pm by the criminal court, with conditions. The 22 year old activist was ordered to wear a monitoring device and not do anything that the court could deem damaging to the monarchy.

After 59 days in jail and 36 days without food in her protest for freedom, the release is a pivot by the government, which has denied fellow activist Penguin’s request for bail 9 times already. Many of the leaders of the pro-democracy movement are still being detained, even after Covid-19 has infected one from within the prison.

Rung rose to national fame after a passionate speech at Thammasat University where she is a student on August 10. She recounted a 10-point manifesto demanding reforms in the government and the monarchy. She became a familiar face in the growing movement that has been fueled since last July by students and young protesters, demonstrating almost daily despite the harsh punishment the government could hand down using the lese majeste laws.

SOURCE: Coconuts

 

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