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Landslide in Patong

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PATONG: Scores of residents at the Beverly Hills complex off Nanai Rd Soi 9 were evacuated to safety early yesterday morning after heavy rains caused a landslide that left part of the foundations of a hillside villa and an apartment block hanging perilously in thin air.

The slump occurred around 1 am, when exposed earth suddenly slumped down onto a construction workers camp below. An 18-month-old Burmese child trapped in the camp was rescued a few hours later. There were no reports of serious injury.

One European tourist, who asked not to be identified, told the Gazette he was awakened about 1 am by a sound “resembling a thunder clap”. That was followed about 30 seconds later by a loud roar as the earth beneath the apartment rushed downslope onto the workers camp.

“I was sound asleep at the time. I just grabbed by passport, wallet and laptop and ran up to the safety of the parking lot with all the other residents,” said the European, who is now staying in a hotel on Soi Sawatdirak in central Patong.

Most of the residents of the apartment block are foreigners, some long-stay tourists like himself planning to stay several months, he said.

His second-floor apartment had an impressive view overlooking Patong Bay and units in the hillside apartment block ranged in price from about 25,000 baht to 55,000 baht a month, he said.

The possibility of a landslide was in the back of his mind when he checked into the apartment block a few weeks ago, but he convinced himself that it was probably safe as it had already survived four or five rainy seasons, he said.

“I am glad to hear that none of the workers in that camp below were killed,” he added.

The man re-entered his room on the second floor to recover more of his belongings after the rain stopped later in the day yesterday.

A man who who described himself as a local community leader in the Soi Veerakij [Nanai Soi 9] area told the Gazette, also under the condition of anonymity, that he thinks more landslides and damage to property in the area are inevitable.

“I have lived here for a long time and we never had any problems with landslides before. I don’t know if it was triggered by the weight of the buildings above or the construction going on below. I don’t want to point the finger at anyone until town engineers complete their investigation,” he said.

“All of the people were evacuated to safety and municipal officials arrived soon after to assess the damage, which included structural damage to some units as well as a broken water main,” he said.

“I think that before too long there will be another slide and more houses will be damaged,” he added.

This morning another local resident, who has lived in the area for nine years and whose home is opposite the landslide area, told the Gazette he thought the slide was the result of deforestation.

An investor from Bangkok who is building an almost completed five-story hotel in the area recently began removing trees and other vegetation from the hillside and set up a camp for Burmese laborers there in order to build bungalows, he explained.

The removal of the vegetation that previously stabilized the soil and the resulting erosion from the current heavy rain was the likely cause of the slide, he said.

Patong Deputy Mayor Chairat Sukkaban told the Gazette that the slide happened on private land. In August last year, K. Chairat appeared on the state-run Andaman News with Dr Suttisak Soralump, a geotechnical expert from Kasetsart University in Bangkok.

Explaining the results of a study of slope stability in hillside areas of Patong, both men concluded that there was a real danger of landslides during heavy rains in two areas: along Phra Barami Rd in Kalim and along parts of Nanai Rd.

During that interview K. Chairat noted that private-sector development in hillside areas was a prime contributor to risk of landslides. The town’s main regulatory tool in preventing landslides is through enforcement of a ban on building permanent structures above 80 meters elevation, he said.

Municipal officials would continue to monitor the situation to ensure public safety, he said.

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Phuket

4 billion baht medical hub planned for Phuket

Maya Taylor

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4 billion baht medical hub planned for Phuket | The Thaiger
Mai Khao beach in north Phuket. PHOTO: Booking.com

Phuket officials are setting aside around 4 billion baht to transform medical tourism in the southern province of Phuket, by developing a state-of-the-art treatment hub in the north of the island. The Bangkok Post reports that the Treasury department is planning to give the Public Health Ministry permission to use 141 rai of government land in the sub-district of Mai Khao, close to Phuket International Airport. It’s not the first time the proposal has come to light.

The concept is gathering support as Phuket battles to diversify its attraction beyond a tropical holiday island.

The aim is to develop Phuket as a world-class health and wellness destination, with facilities that will attract medical tourists from all over the world, as well as providing a high standard of treatment to the local population. It’s understood the facility will provide a full range of health services, including long-term care, and hospice and rehabilitation services.

The island already has a well-developed medical tourism market, but has been based around local hospitals and clinics linking up with foreign marketing companies in the past. “The International Medical and Public Health Service” has been conceived to create more long term financial security and diversification, and value-added tourism in Phuket, as the island has taken a heavy financial hit over the past 7 months.

4 billion baht medical hub planned for Phuket | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Phuket Andaman News

The plan was first suggested in 2017, by then governor, Noraphat Plodthong and confirmed by the director of Phuket’s Vachira Hospital, Dr. Chalermpong Sukontapol, in July. At that stage, the estimated budget was 3-4 billion baht. The director-general of the Treasury department, Yuthana Yimkarun, says the plot is being offered to the Health Ministry for free. The land is thought be worth around 1 billion baht.

Yuthana says the ministry will manage investment, with approximately 2 billion baht required for the first stage of the project. Construction of the facility is expected to be completed over 2 years.

Meanwhile, it’s understood that unused government land that is currently managed by various government agencies may be moved under the remit of central government, with a view to increasing its worth. According to the Bangkok Post report, just 4% of government land is directly managed by the Treasury. The other 96% is controlled by various government agencies. Yuthana says the plan is to increase the percentage of state-owned land under the Treasury’s management to 10% within 2 years.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

“Open the borders, safely”, Bill Heinecke, Minor International interview – VIDEO

The Thaiger

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“Open the borders, safely”, Bill Heinecke, Minor International interview – VIDEO | The Thaiger

Bill Heinecke speaks to Bill Barnett. The two heavy-hitters of Thailand’s hotel and hospitality sector, mull over the current Covid situation and the reopening of Thailand’s borders to some form of tourism. Bill Heinecke is the Chairman and Founder of Minor International.

Bill Barnett is the Managing Director of c9hotelworks.com

Now the Thai government has approved the special long-term tourist visa scheme (STV), hoteliers are remaining skeptical about reopening due to the lack of clarity in the recent announcement, which will reportedly take effect next month. The president of the Thai Hotels Association’s southern chapter says more hoteliers will consider reopening if the government gives further information about the plan in terms of prospective markets, arrival dates, origin countries, and flights.

Such details would allow hotels to prepare themselves ahead of time to offer services as alternative state quarantine premises as at least 60 hotels in Phuket are awaiting approval to operate such facilities.

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Bangkok

Now they’re coming… Special Tourist Visa flight set for Tuesday – Tourism and Sports Minister

Caitlin Ashworth

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Now they’re coming… Special Tourist Visa flight set for Tuesday – Tourism and Sports Minister | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Unsplash: Suhyeon Choi

After much confusion and a few apparent ‘misunderstandings’, Chinese tourists on the Special Tourist Visa will actually arrive on October 20 and 26. At least that’s what Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn says, according to the Bangkok Post. The first group is said to arrive 4 days from now in Bangkok (if they actually applied for the visa this time).

Reports circulated for weeks about a flight of 120 to 150 tourists set to arrive in Phuket on October 8 from Guangzhou, China. An announcement was made shortly after the flight was due to arrive with Tourism Authority Governor Yuthasak Supasorn saying “administrative issues” had caused the delay.

It was later reported that no one from Guangzhou had actually applied for the visa and it was all just a misunderstanding after the Tourism Authority of Thailand reportedly passed off a list of those “interested” in the visa as actual applications.

This time, the Post is reporting the first group of 120 tourists from Guangzhou will arrive at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport on Tuesday. Another group of 120 tourists, also from Guangzhou, will arrive on October 26, but the Post didn’t say where that flight will land.

It’s apparently the same group that was planned to arrive in Phuket on October 8, but the minister claims the trip was postponed due to the Vegetarian Festival which is planned to run until October 25. Both the Phuket governor and National Security Council secretary general had claimed the festival was the reason for the delayed flight and was intended to ease fears of Covid-19 for the festival-goers coming in from the rest of Thailand.

Even though the new long stay tourist visa is good for 90 days, and can be renewed twice, the tourists will only stay in the country for 30 days, with 14 of those days in quarantine. Phiphat says the Tourism Authority of Thailand will find activities to keep the tourists occupied while in quarantine.

The visitors will be the first international tourists after a 6 month ban to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Thai officials have been discussing plans for months about how to safely reopen borders to revive the country’s economy which is heavily driven by the tourism industry. Officals are now talking about cutting down the mandatory time for quarantine from 14 days to 7 days to help entice people to visit.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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