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Terror warning does not apply to Phuket: US Embassy

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Terror warning does not apply to Phuket: US Embassy | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Tourism operators yesterday threatened to march on the US Embassy if the United States refused to withdraw its terrorism warning for Bangkok within two days. However, local tourism operators can rest easy, as the embassy has reiterated that the warning does not apply to Phuket.

“Those concerned operators will join forces to submit their demand to US Ambassador Kristie Kenney to clarify the impacts [on the tourism industry] of maintaining the warning,” said Watchara Kannikar, spokesman of the Tourism and Sports Ministry.

“They will also present information that they got in cooperation with the Foreign Affairs Ministry, the National Police Office and other security agencies, all of which show that Thailand is not a terrorist target,” he said yesterday after a meeting of the National Tourism Policy Committee.

The committee to monitor the situation after the posting of the terrorism warning in Bangkok by the US is also concerned about the impacts on tourists, especially those from China and India.

“Those news reports have made tourists reluctant to enter Thailand,” Mr Watchara said.

At the moment the number of cancellations of hotel-rooms and air-tickets has not reportedly jumped significantly.

Tourists have reportedly avoided Bangkok and proceeded directly to their destinations after taking off from Suvarnabhumi Airport to Chiang Mai and Phuket.

A US Embassy spokesperson told the Phuket Gazette this morning that the mission has adopted a “wait and see” approach in regard to the threatened protest.

He reiterated that the warning is specific to Bangkok and has no bearing on Phuket or other tourist destinations outside the capital.

Despite the worries over the terror scare, the Tourism and Sports ministry still projects that visitor arrivals will reach 19.55 million in 2012, up from 19 million last year. They expect to generate at least 760 billion baht in income for Thailand.

Tourism and Sports Minister Chumpol Silapa-archa went down to Khaosarn Road, where crowds of Israeli and American tourists gather, to convince them of Thailand’s security measures.

Foreign Minister Surapong Towichukchaikul said the ministry’s permanent secretary had explained the recent high-profile terrorism case to the United States.

“We believe the warning will be revoked,” he said. “It will just take some time.”

Surapong also expressed confidence that foreign terrorists would not stage any attacks in Thailand because the country had been friendly to all.

This month, Atris Hussein was arrested at Suvarnabhumi for his alleged link to a terrorism network .

A police investigation suggested that Hussein was planning to export bomb-making materials, such as urea fertilizer and ammonium nitrate, to a third country. Ammonium nitrate is a prohibited chemical in Thailand and Hussein is now facing charges of unauthorized possession of the controlled substance.

Hussein has two passports, Lebanese and Swedish. He had allegedly rented a shophouse in Samut Sakhon for about two years to keep the large stashes of ammonium nitrate and urea fertilizer, which have now been seized.

National Police chief Priewphan Damapong said police were seeking an arrest warrant for a second suspect in the case.

“We have drawn up a sketch based on the description given by Hussein and the shophouse owner,” the general said.

This suspect had lived in the shophouse with Hussein for months, he said.

Anuchai Lekbam-rung, deputy Metropolitan Police commissioner, identified this new suspect as James Sammy Paolo, a 40-year-old Lebanese.

“We believe there’s solid evidence against him,” he said.

Additional reporting by Phuket Gazette news editor Stephen Fein.

— Phuket Gazette / The Nation



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Phuket

Slow loris released back into Phuket forest

The Thaiger

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Slow loris released back into Phuket forest | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Department of National Parks

Officers from of the Khao Phra Thaeo Non-Hunting Area have helped in the release of a slow loris back into the wild yesterday.

The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation reports that the head of Khao Phra Thaeo Non-Hunting Area, Pongchart Chueahom, yesterday released the slow loris to the Khao Phra Thaeo Non-Hunting Are in Thalang.

The slow loris was found near a furniture factory in Thalang last week. It was being treated at a pet hospital before being handed over to Khun Pongchart when it was ready to be set free.

Slow loris released back into Phuket forest | News by The Thaiger Slow loris released back into Phuket forest | News by The Thaiger

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Phuket

Seastead structure dragged back to shore by Royal Thai Navy

The Thaiger

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Seastead structure dragged back to shore by Royal Thai Navy | The Thaiger

A floating seastead has today been towed by a naval vessel back to the Port of Phuket in Cape Panwa. Meanwhile the Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam is challenging the owners and builders of the structure to take the Thai Government and Navy to the International Court of Justice.

The Royal Thai Navy’s Third Fleet ventured out with a group of reporters on Saturday to inspect the floating seastead, the first of about 20 planned Ocean Builders for the open waters about 22km from Phuket’s Koh Racha Yai.

Nothing valuable was found on board the octagon-shaped steel and aluminium structure which was attached to a floating platform.

Two vessels were used in today’s operation. The living quarters were detached and placed on the first vessel and the second towed the floating platform to the shore for safe keeping pending legal action against its owner as well as the builder, Ocean Builders Company.

Dr. Wissanu said yesterday that Thai authorities were authorised to remove or dismantle the floating housing unit with or without the consent of its owner after finding the structure could pose a threat to Thai national security and sovereignty in accordance with Article 119 of the Criminal Code.

He said that the structure also posed an obstacle to vessels and was located not far from an oil rig.

Regarding the threat by Ocean Builders Company to sue the Thai government in the International Court of Justice for the removal, the deputy PM says he welcomes the move, noting that no government anywhere would allow a seastead settlement near their maritime territory.

Seasteader Chad Andrew Edwartowski and his Thai wife, Mrs. Nadia Summergirl, are wanted by the Thai police for questioning after Thai immigration revoked the American’s non-immigrant visa and blacklisted him.

SOURCE: Thai PBS

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Phuket

Phuket taxi slams into tree in Phattalung

The Thaiger

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Phuket taxi slams into tree in Phattalung | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Phattalung Rescue

Two people have sustained serious injuries after a Phuket taxi slammed into a tree in Phattalung last night.

Phattalung rescue workers were notified of the accident in Mueang Pattalung District at 7.57pm last night (Sunday).

They arrived at the scene to find the Phuket registered taxi resting in front of the big tree on the side of the road near a temple. The front of the vehicle had extensive damage following the collision.

The two people who sustained serious injuries were 58 year old Wanchai Srithong and 64 year old Jamras Srithong. They were both taken to the Phattalung Hospital.

Pattalung City Police are continuing their investigation. There has been no explanation given at this stage as to why a Phuket taxi was in Phattalung.

Phuket taxi slams into tree in Phattalung | News by The Thaiger Phuket taxi slams into tree in Phattalung | News by The Thaiger

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