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Missing Flight MH370 strayed to south of Phuket, Malaysia military says

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Missing Flight MH370 strayed to south of Phuket, Malaysia military says | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Malaysia’s military has traced what could have been the jetliner missing for almost five days to an area south of Phuket, hundreds of miles to the west of its last known position, the country’s air force chief said yesterday.

His statement followed a series of conflicting accounts of the flight path of the Boeing 777-200ER with 239 people on board, which left authorities uncertain even which ocean to search in for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.

The last definitive sighting of the aircraft on civilian radar screens came shortly before 1:30am on Saturday, less than an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur, as it flew northeast across the mouth of the Gulf of Thailand bound for Beijing.

What happened next remains one of the most baffling mysteries in modern aviation history and the differing accounts put out by various Malaysian officials have drawn criticism of their handling of the crisis.

In the latest potential lead, a Chinese government agency website yesterday said a Chinese satellite had photographed three “suspicious floating objects” on Sunday in waters northeast of Kuala Lumpur and south of Vietnam.

It said the images were taken over the “suspected accident area at sea” that was not far from where the plane made its last known communication with air traffic control.

The website of the State Administration for Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence said the objects measured about 22 by 24 meters, 14m by 19m and 13m by 18m. It was unclear if that location had been searched.

There was no immediate explanation why the Chinese agency waited for four days to reveal the images.

One senior US defense official said US satellites had not located any sign of a crash.

Earlier yesterday, Lt Gen Rodzali Daud, the Malaysian air force chief, told a news conference that an aircraft was plotted on military radar at 2:15am, 320km northwest of Penang, off Malaysia’s west coast.

But there has been no confirmation that the unidentified plane was Flight MH370, Gen Rodzali said, and Malaysia was sharing the data with international civilian and military authorities, including those from the United States.

“We are corroborating this,” he added. “We are still working with the experts.”

Agonizing wait

According to the data cited by Gen Rodzali, if the radar had spotted the missing plane, the aircraft would have flown for 45 minutes and dropped only about 1,500m (5,000 feet) in altitude since its sighting on civilian radar in the Gulf of Thailand.

There was no word on which direction it was then headed, but if this sighting was correct, the plane would have turned sharply west from its original course, travelling hundreds of miles over the Malay Peninsula from the Gulf of Thailand to the Andaman Sea.

This would put it about 320km northwest of Penang, in the northern part of the Strait of Malacca, roughly south of Phuket and east of the tip of Indonesia’s Aceh province and India’s Nicobar island chain.

Indonesia and Thailand have said their militaries detected no sign of any unusual aircraft in their airspace. Malaysia has asked India for help in tracing the aircraft and New Delhi’s coast guard planes have joined the search.

The US National Transportation Safety Board said in a statement that its experts in air traffic control and radar who travelled to Kuala Lumpur over the weekend were giving the Malaysians technical help in the search.

A US official in Washington said the experts were shown two sets of radar records, military and civilian, and they both appeared to show the plane turning to the west and across the Malay peninsula.

But the official stressed the records were raw data returns that were not definitive.

Authorities were continuing to search on both sides of the Malay peninsula in a total of over 27,000 square nautical miles (93,000 sq km), an area the size of Hungary or Indiana.

A dozen countries are taking part in the search, with 42 ships and 39 aircraft involved, Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said yesterday.

There has been no sighting of any debris, prolonging the agonizing wait for hundreds of relatives of those on board.

“My heart reaches out to the families of the passengers and crew,” the minister said “And I give you my assurance we will not reduce the tempo and that we will not spare any effort to find the missing plane.”

Confusing information

Malaysia has been criticized for giving conflicting and confusing information on the last known location of aircraft.

“The Malaysians deserve to be criticized – their handling of this has been atrocious,” said Ernest Bower, a Southeast Asia specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

“They don’t know where the plane is; they have briefed key partners and changed the story several times,” he said.

The air force chief yesterday denied saying on Tuesday that military radar had tracked MH370 flying over the Strait of Malacca, saying that the radar sighting was still unconfirmed (story here).

Amid the confusion, Vietnam briefly scaled down search operations in waters off its southern coast, saying it was receiving poor information from Malaysia. Hanoi later said the search was back on in full force and was even extending on to land.

“As long as the plane is not found, we would continue doing our mission,” Vo Van Tuan, spokesman for Vietnam Search and Rescue Committee, told reporters in Hanoi.

China also said its air force would sweep areas in the sea, clarifying however that no searches over land were planned.

Authorities have not ruled out any possible cause for the plan’s disappearance. Malaysian police have said they were investigating whether any passengers or crew on the plane had personal or psychological problems that might shed light on the mystery, along with the possibility of a hijacking, sabotage or mechanical failure.

The Boeing 777 has one of the best safety records of any commercial aircraft in service. Its only previous fatal crash came on July 6 last year when Asiana Airlines Flight 214 struck a seawall with its undercarriage on landing in San Francisco, killing three people.

Boeing Co, the U.S. aircraft company that makes the 777, has declined to comment beyond a brief statement saying it was monitoring the situation.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Crime

Mystery surrounds security guard found dead in his Phuket room

The Thaiger

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Mystery surrounds security guard found dead in his Phuket room | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Phuket Hot News

The security guard of a hotel in Nai Yang, northern Phuket, 52 year old Yingyot Butsabong, from Maha Sarakham province, was found dead yesterday (October 16) in his room. Police remain mystified how the man came to grief.

A woman named Supattra received a call from the hotel he worked at and was informed that he didn’t show up at work yesterday, so she went to his apartment to check on him.

She saw that his room was locked from the inside, so used the key she had in her possession to open the room and found Yingyot laying on the floor, face down. She thought he was just sleeping so she tried to wake him up but once she flipped him, she found that he already passed away.

She immediately called Saku police, and once on the scene, police found that there was some blood on the floor. The man had a 2 centimetre wound on his left eyebrow which was deep into his skull. There was also a wound on his chin about 1 centimetre long and about a centimetre deep. His left eye had a bruise which looked like he was attacked by a hard object.

Police report that he had been dead for around four hours in the room.

The room was not ransacked and there was no sign of fighting or theft. His body has been sent to Thalang Hospital for a detailed autopsy and to look into the cause of death.

SOURCE: Phuket Hot News

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People

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people

Nattha Thepbamrung

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‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | The Thaiger

On October 18, the ‘Always Smile Journey’ group and its partners will host an exhibition with plenty of fun activities at the Yak Yai Market, near Chalong Circle, in Phuket. This event was designed to raise funds to provide free English classes for underprivileged people on the island of Phuket on Saturdays and Sundays. The group does not accept donations but aims to raise money through the sales of the products available at the event.

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | News by The Thaiger

From 2 pm to 8 pm, there will be a number of artists, musicians and performers who will keep the attendees entertained along the way. There will be a short film about His Majesty King Rama 9 as well as fun activities and games for kids and families, which are all free of charge.

The big bike crew is also a part of this event. They will ride a parade from Rawai Beach heading to the market and showcase their gorgeous two-wheel buddies.

One of the highlights of the Always Smile Journey exhibition is the ‘Happening’ artists group, who will draw and paint a picture of the His Majesty King Rama 9 under the name ‘Street Art King Bhumibol’ on a 4×10 meter sign live at the event so the guests will experience this large-scale art in action. The Happening will also offer portrait sketching for the participants.

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | News by The Thaiger

One of the works created by the Happening team; a painting of HM the King Rama 9 on a huge wall (Photo credit: Chawat Chumpasan)

There will also be some western menus available at the event which will be donated to underprivileged children.

This free English class project has over seven years of experience through its cooperation working with individuals and other charity organizations. Throughout the years, the group visited several areas such as Ban Laem Hoy School, Ban Bopud School and Ban Angthong School in Samui, Surat Thani province, Ban Bueng Ao Oun School and Ban Kakoh Rayong, in Surin province, Jalae Village of Lahu (Muser) in Chiang Rai province, as well as community education centers in Siem Reap, Cambodia and in Luang Prabang, in Laos.

This event is a cooperation between several groups, including Happening, Yak Yai Market and Arrow Media, Tattoo artist group, Thonburi Art School Alumni, International School of Tourism, Suratthani Rajabhat University, big bike group from Phuket, artists/performers/musicians from many provinces as well as several businesses across Phuket.

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Bangkok

The world’s fastest growing tourist destinations

The Thaiger

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The world’s fastest growing tourist destinations | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Hello Phuket – destined for huge tourist growth in the next six years – fodors.com

In 2018, international tourist arrival traffic grew by 6% to reach a total of 1.4 billion world tourists, according to research by UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. And there’s a lot more to come with international travel predicted to increase by a massive 35% over the next six years to 2025.

But where is all that extra traffic going to go? Which destinations are quiet now that might be swarming with tourists in the years to come? Two destinations in Thailand are set for a prosperous future, according to the data. Whilst almost all the growth is excepted to be to Asian destinations, an under-visited resource for world tourism so far.

Euromonitor data has been used to simulate tourist growth models and reveal the fastest growing projected visitor arrivals in major cities and destinations around the world for 2025, compared to arrival figures in 2018.

In Thailand, Phuket’s tourist traffic is poised to increase up to 85% in the next six years, from nearly 12 million arrivals in 2018 to over 22 million in 2025. Bangkok is predicted to see the 8th most prolific rise in tourist traffic, with arrivals in Bangkok set to swell an additional 68% during the same period. Doha, the capital of Qatar, is set to explode with 104% increase in traffic over the next six years.

The data also predicts that both Bangkok and Phuket will rebound big time in 2020, Phuket in particular with a growth of around 20% for the next year, accord to the data from TravelSupermarket.com.

By 2025 the data predicts that Bangkok will be the world’s #1 tourist destination, a position it’s held before in recent years. The Thai capital will be followed by Singapore, Dubai, Phuket and Kuala Lumpur, making South East Asia the world’s emerging tourism hotspot.

Some of the world’s favourites – New York, Paris, London – will continue to grow their tourist numbers but not at the rate of most Asian destinations.

You can read the full list HERE.

The world's fastest growing tourist destinations | News by The Thaiger

Stats compiled by travelsupermarket.com

The world's fastest growing tourist destinations | News by The Thaiger

Stats compiled by travelsupermarket.com

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