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Phuket stolen passports may unravel missing Malaysian flight mystery

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: Police are investigating how two passports reported stolen in Phuket were used by persons unknown to board Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which disappeared over the South China Sea on Saturday (story here).

The probe was announced yesterday after two tourists who visited Phuket on holiday were found alive and well after being listed among the 239 passengers on board Flight MH370.

Italian tourist Luigi Maraldi, 37, was found safe at a guesthouse on Nanai Road in Patong.

“Mr Maraldi filed a report to Patong Police on July 25 last year that his passport was lost on July 22,” Police Region 8 Commander Panya Mamen told a press conference yesterday.

“He returned to Phuket on holiday on March 1 this year. We began a search and located him after we were notified that he was listed as one of the missing passengers.”

Mr Maraldi explained to the press that he left his passport as security for a rented motorbike in Patong while on holiday in Phuket last year.

“The woman who ran the shop told me that a man had come to the shop and claimed that he was my partner – and he took my passport,” he said.

“I flew back to Italy on an emergency travel document on August 3.”

Mr Maraldi learned that he was listed as one of the missing passengers when his family called him from Italy to confirm that he was alive and well.

“I told them I am still alive and that I have never been to Malaysia,” he explained.

Mr Maraldi said he was due to conclude his holidays in Phuket on March 15, but was happy to assist police, as much as he could, in identifying the man who collected his passport.

Gen Panya told the press that his officers were also investigating the reported theft of a passport issued to Austrian tourist Christian Kozel, 30, who was also listed as missing on board Flight MH370.

“A spokesman for Austria’s foreign ministry confirmed to the media on Saturday that Mr Kozel is alive and well in Austria. The spokesman also confirmed Mr Kozel’s passport was reported lost in Phuket,” Gen Panya said.

“We are now checking which police station Mr Kozel reported his missing passport to.”

Why the men posing as Luigi Maraldi and Christian Kozel used the false documents is still unclear, reported The Guardian. Terrorism has been marked as a possibility, but so has asylum.

Six Syrians who were held in limbo at Phuket International Airport and supposed to be deported by the end of February, were hoping to seek refugee status in Sweden. However, their passports were seized in Bejiing and they were returned to Phuket (story here).

The group said they had chosen to fly through Phuket and Beijing because other refugees had reached Sweden using the same flight path, The Guardian reported.

The two men on board MH370 with the false documents had booked onward flights via Beijing to Amsterdam. One was then to depart for Copenhagen and the other for Frankfurt.

— Kritsada Mueanhawong

 

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

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

For travellers to Phuket, testing is out, quarantine is in

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Phuket Vice Governor Piyapong Choowong (via Facebook)

The on-again-off-again plans for testing people for Covid-19 as they arrive in Phuket will be replaced by quarantine after May 15, according to Vice Governor Piyapong Choowong’s latest announcement. In an online video broadcast last night, the vice governor confirmed the new scheme after Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew first mentioned it in an executive meeting at Phuket Provincial Hall yesterday.

There are now 25 provinces on the Phuket red zone list that they instated on April 22, with anyone arriving from those places required to have proof that they are either fully vaccinated or tested negative for Covid-19 within the last 72 hours. Without proof, people have to take a rapid antigen test to confirm they did not have Covid-19 before they would be allowed on the island. The test was first set to be 300 baht for everyone, and later controversially made free for Thai people and 500 baht for foreigners.

There had been some back and forth with budget concerns of being able to provide the mass testing and who would pay how much for continued testing. Perhaps requiring people to quarantine in Phuket is cheaper than testing them when they arrive (cheaper for Phuket officials anyway).

The original scheme was set to expire May 15, and announcements were made about extending the plan and stopping testing right away. For now, this debate seems to have settled on replacing the testing with a mandatory quarantine upon entering Phuket.

The vice-governor explained that the rapid antigen test will continue through May 14, and then starting May 15, anyone who arrives without a vaccine or a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours of arriving in Phuket will be required to quarantine for 14 days. They set a goal of zero new infections by the end of the next two weeks. And he stated they are committed to doing whatever it takes as “Phuket cannot continue with this risk”.

Speaking to The Phuket News… “We want to send a sign to the country that we are cleaning up our province. The 3 vice governors [in Phuket] have been ordered to take care of each district by cooperating with local administration officers as well as community leaders to do proactive screening,”

After announcing the quarantine plan for Phuket, the vice governor spoke confidently that in the near future the island will have enough jabs to vaccinate every person on the island. Religious leaders from any faith are currently being vaccinated because of their general proximity to people during religious ceremonies and practices.

Vice Governor Piyapong pled with people with the people of Phuket who were on the fence about Covid-19 vaccinations, anti-vaxxers, or those otherwise resisting getting the jabs needed to reach herd immunity.

“If you are still deciding whether or not to get vaccinated, please come to get vaccinated”

SOURCE: The Phuket News

 

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Phuket

Thailand News Today | Pfizer vaccines on the way, Phuket’s July re-opening | May 7

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Disease Control Department back-peddled saying that that foreigners living in Thailand WILL also be vaccinated, governor of Chiang Mai is calling for the ban on dining in at restaurants in the northern city to be lifted and for eateries to be allowed to serve food on-site until 9pm, Tourism and Sports Minister insists the southern island of Phuket must record zero Covid-19 cases if a planned July re-opening is to go ahead, and 150 million baht worth of methamphetamine pills were impounded in Nakhon Phanom yesterday

 

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We’re looking for a Video Editor/Production Assistant in Phuket

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The Thaiger is seeking a full time video editor and production assistant for a new project based in Phuket. The role is open to a Thai national but with great English skills as well. You will need to be able to work to deadlines with a crazy bunch of stressed out news hosts, guests and the rest of The Thaiger team.

You’ll also need a general knowledge of the Thai news cycle as the content will be largely centred around daily news and current affairs. Knowledge of social media, and especially YouTube, will be an advantage.

Prior work in the TV or video production industry would be a requirement; we couldn’t care less about your educational qualifications. The role would be Monday to Friday.

The work hours would be earlier in the day, probably starting around 7am. There may be some occasional travel to Bangkok involved as well. Salary would be between 30-40,000 baht per month, depending on experience with opportunities for bonuses. The initial contract would be for 3 months, renewable.

If you are interested, or know someone who could fit the job, send an email to THAIGER EDITOR at info@thethaiger.com

 

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