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Phuket International Airport still shut

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET AIRPORT (Nation and Gazette reporters): Phuket and Krabi airports remained closed yesterday as People’s Alliance for Democracy [PAD] protesters occupying them insisted they would continue to do so until the prime minister resigned or PAD leaders said otherwise.

In Phuket, some 400 police and volunteers were on hand to ensure security and safety. Deputy Phuket Governor Worapoj Ratthasima affirmed that no violence would be used to drive the protesters out. While the great majority of Phuket people are staunchly opposed to current Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, because of his association with disgraced former PM Thaksin Shinawatra, the airport occupation has alienated some PAD members here because tourism is being severely affected. Some have disowned the PAD movement entirely and called for an immediate end to the airport seizure. 

Thousands of tourists are currently stuck here at the end of their holidays, with many more to be added to the total today as Sundays are the heaviest day of the week at Phuket airport for outbound traffic. There is no train service in Phuket, and Bangkok, the country’s international air hub, is 12 hours away by bus. 

In Krabi, the provincial airport remained closed for the second day, with six inbound flights, two of them international, cancelled. Tourists who have booked outbound flights have been told they can get refunds, little consolation for those who have commitments in their home countries.

A protest has also taken place at Surat Thani Airport, forcing suspension of flights to that southern province, a gateway to Koh Samui.

In Songkhla, Hat Yai Airport was reopened. But Banjong Nasae, a leading member of the local PAD protesters, warned the government not to disperse the massive PAD rally in Bangkok with violence. If that were to occur, the PAD  would seize Hat Yai Airport again and this time might camp there for at least five days, he said.

 

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