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Mystery surrounds death of Swiss woman found floating off Phuket

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: Phuket City Police traveled to Koh Maphrao today to investigate the discovery of a Swiss woman’s body found yesterday in waters off the island’s east coast.

The body was identified as 61-year-old Ursula Balzan by her relatives who lived nearby on Koh Maphrao.

Her neck was broken and there were bruises around her body and mouth.

Officers told the Phuket Gazette that her body was found floating near Koh Mali, a small islet near Koh Maphrao.

Ms Balzan’s sister, Jacqueline Erni, 54, explained the circumstances to the Gazette after being interviewed at Phuket City Police Headquarters today in Phuket Town.

“We were away for a short time and she was staying on the island. On June 15, I gave her a phone call at about 2pm and she said everything was okay. It was the last time I spoke to her,” Mrs Erni said.

“We came back the next day, [yesterday, June 16], at about 3pm. It was strange because normally she feeds the dog but there was no food left out.

“Also, the dog had to be given medicine, but the medicine was still there. We were looking around the house and areas nearby when I got a call saying a body had been found,” she said.

Ms Balzan was retired and lived with the Erni family for a year before moving into her own house about four months ago, Mrs Erni’s daughter, 21-year-old Lee Erni, said.

Their houses are about 50 meters apart, situated among a group of 10 houses on top of a hill, she added.

Staff at the Maphrao Camp Belvedere resort today confirmed to the Gazette that Ms Balzan had stayed at the resort for about 16 months.

Phuket City Police said that Ms Balzan was found in a bathing suit.

En Ruengsamut, a 39-year-old laborer who works at the housing project, said that Ms Balzan regularly went for a swim with the dog about one kilometer from her house, but she did not take the dog on the day she was found.

“Normally she wakes up at about 8am, but on the day she died it was strange because I didn’t see her around her house until noon. I didn’t want to disturb her [in the morning],” Mr En said.

“My friend saw her body while he went out to work on Koh Panyee and he called the [Rassada] municipality. Her body was taken to Vachira Phuket Hospital where it was later identified by her family,” he added.

Mrs Erni remains perplexed by her sister’s death.

“A doctor at Vachira Hospital said that it was strange because she got a very, very hard hit on the head.

“If she hit something hard when she jumped into the water she would have had to jump 20 meters down and hit something heavily,” she suggested to the Gazette.

“Also, we don’t know what time she died, so we will send her body to Surat Thani for an autopsy today or tomorrow, as soon as possible.

“The autopsy will take one day,” Mrs Erni added.

— Atchaa Khamlo

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Thailand

Thai Airways to resume flights from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and Phuket

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thai Airways to resume flights from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and Phuket | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai Airways

After nearly 9 months on the ground due to the coronavirus pandemic, along with problems balancing their accounts, Thai Airways will resume flights between Bangkok and Chiang Mai as well as Bangkok and Phuket later this month. The flights will start back up on Christmas day.

Flights from Bangkok to the 2 key tourist provinces have been grounded since April 1. Starting December 25, the airline will run 3 flights a week on both routes. A source told the Bangkok Post that the new schedules will run until at least February 28.

Thai Lion Air, Thai Air Asia, Nok Air, Thai Smile, VietJet Air and Bangkok Airways have returned to the domestic skies since July and slowly adding frequency to their routes.

In addition to resuming the domestic flights, the Thai Airways is relaunching some international flights from January 1 to March 27 including weekly flights to Frankfurt, London, Copenhagen, Sydney, Seoul, Manila, Taipei and Osaka. Flights from Bangkok to Tokyo will be available 3 times a week and flights from Bangkok to Hong Kong will be available every day.

Thai Airways has been tackling bankruptcy throughout the lockdown and trying to make up for more than 300 billion baht in losses. Since many flights were suspended due to travel restrictions, Thai Airways has tried to make money by business ventures on the ground, like a pop-up restaurant serving in-flight meals and selling off unwanted equipment from their warehouse. There also disposing of much of their older fleet, including all of their Boring 747-400s.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

97 police officers investigated for fiddling Covid-19 payments

Maya Taylor

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97 police officers investigated for fiddling Covid-19 payments | The Thaiger
PHOTO: www.newsbeezer.com

97 police officers, from 41 police stations, are currently being investigated for an alleged scam involving Covid-19 payments meant for officers who worked extra shifts during the crisis. The case was assigned by national police chief Suwat Jangyodsuk in November, when it came to light that some officers may have fraudulently claimed allowances meant for others.

In one incident, an officer responsible for transferring extra payments to police on the southern island of Phuket transferred the money to his own accountant instead. At the time, the transfer was dismissed as a mistake (in his favour), with the officer in question receiving a warning, and payments then made to the qualifying officers.

Wissanu Prasatthong-Osot from the National Internal Affairs Police says the investigation should reach a conclusion within the next 10 days.

“The result of the investigation should be ready in 10 days. Currently, 97 officers in 41 police stations ranging from non-commissioned to generals are under investigation for being involved in the swindle. The bureau aims to provide justice to all policemen involved. After the investigation concludes, the victims will receive their full allowance, while the offending officers will be punished under the law and disciplinary standards.”

Nation Thailand reports that a full list of alleged offenders has been sent to Suwat, with Wissanu promising that none will escape prosecution.

“The National Police chief had also ordered the transfer of offending officers at the commander and sub-commander levels out of their areas as per the investigation procedures.”

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Tourism

Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce to propose Guangzhou-Phuket tourism route

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce to propose Guangzhou-Phuket tourism route | The Thaiger
PHOTO: 77 kaoded

A tourism route from Guangzhou, China to Phuket could help the island province recover from the recession brought on by the pandemic and lack of foreign travel, according to the Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce. The president of the organisation, Narongsak Puttapornmongkol, says they plan to submit a letter proposing the route under a travel bubble scheme to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

The Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce is proposing a travel bubble with around 20 cities in China with no recent coronavirus infections and considered to be at a low risk of spreading the virus. Travellers from Guangzhou recently entered Thailand on the new Special Tourist Visa. It was the second flight of international tourists since travel restrictions were imposed in late-March.

“We believe that the Travel Bubble and the quarantine reduction will resolve the tourism business, which is a huge economic opportunity to recover.”

Once a vaccine is widely available, Narongsak suggests that those who wish to Thailand could also present their vaccination certificate or examination reports from the place of origin. He adds that the mandatory state quarantine period is likely to be reduced.

SOURCE: Pattaya News

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