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Search continues today for survivors. 23 remain missing.

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Search continues today for survivors. 23 remain missing. | The Thaiger

With the body count numbers still in flux, as the recovery mission continues, the Phuket PR Office says the official death toll is 33 tourists that have died with dozens still missing.

Strong winds and high waves sunk the dive yacht Phoenix, packed with mainly Chinese visitors, late on Thursday afternoon when a weather front came in from the Andaman Sea.

Phuket’s Governor Norapat Plodthong says rescuers have retrieved at least 32 bodies from the waters between Koh Hei and Koh Maiton while 23 others are still missing. 49 people were rescued.

Many victims of the accident drowned despite wearing life jackets. Many were found floating face-down – a situation life-jackets are meant to prevent. The main focus is still on the sunken Phoenix yacht wreck. Whilst the rescue operations were suspended last night they resumed again this morning at 5am.

The Phoenix was carrying 93 passengers and 12 crew members, was operating near Koh Hei as part of a snorkelling and swimming trip, when the incident happened.

Vessels from the Royal Thai Navy, coastal patrol units and private-owned boats were deployed to help comb the area for missing passengers. Scores of divers were assigned to check the sunken Phoenix yesterday in a mission that was considered a body recovery mission, not a rescue mission.

Search continues today for survivors. 23 remain missing. | News by The Thaiger

Searching will continue today, focussed on the Phoenix, as well as combing the sea at a radius of 10 kilometres around the accident.

Rear Admiral Charoenpon Kumrasee said that Navy divers had gone down to the vessel and entered one room yesterday

“In that room, the divers found about 10 dead passengers stuck inside. However it was difficult to retrieve them as the ship is about 40 metres underwater. The first batch of divers spent about 45 minutes there and the second batch followed for an additional search,” Charoenpon said.

Search continues today for survivors. 23 remain missing. | News by The Thaiger

Kanokkittika Krittawuttikorn, director of Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Phuket office, said she is collecting information to report to Beijing who will advise the passengers’ families. Some of the surviving tourists were still being treated in Vachira and Mission Hospitals last night while others were sent home.

The hospitals put out a call yesterday for Chinese translators to assist with communicating with the many patients that had been brought to the hospital after their rescue.

The Senereta was the second vessel that sunk on Thursday evening. It was carrying 149 passengers and sunk although no one died in the incident.

Tourism and Sports Minister Weerasak Kowsurat said that the families of the victims of the boat accident would get 300,000 baht from the government. The ministry has a fund to compensate the families of tourists injured or killed in accidents. Those injured would receive up to 500,000 baht each towards medical bills.Weerasak said the ministry has set up a coordination centre for efforts to help surviving tourists.

Weerasak said the Phoenix has a licence issued to the TC Blue Dream Company and the business has bought insurance for passengers. He said each dead victim’s family would receive 1 million baht in compensation from the insurance policy while those injured would receive 500,000 baht.

As a preliminary act, police have notified the captain of the Phoenix of pending charges of being reckless, causing an accident that injured and killed others. The captain was recovered, along with other passengers, from a liferaft late on Thursday afternoon.

Search continues today for survivors. 23 remain missing. | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: The ‘Phoenix’ was being used for dive and swimming trips. Photo taken before the sinking.

SOURCES: The Nation, The Thaiger

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Thailand News Today | Changes to quarantine, ‘adult content’ ban continues | March 5

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Thailand News Today | Changes to quarantine, ‘adult content’ ban continues | March 5 | The Thaiger

Thailand’s Public Health Minister is chairing a meeting next Monday, where a vaccine passport scheme and potential travel bubbles is on the agenda. Anutin says those who’ve been vaccinated against Covid-19 will be issued with a book to confirm their vaccination. It’s hoped this will make international travel easier, as well as boosting the public’s confidence and helping life return to some kind of normality.

In related news…. From next month, foreign visitors to the Kingdom will be able to experience the delights of “area quarantine”, after the government confirmed the scheme for 5 provinces. Following a meeting with the Public Health Ministry, the Tourism Minister confirmed that Phuket, Krabi, Chiang Mai, Chon Buri and Surat Thani, which includes Koh Samui, have been chosen to pilot the scheme.

P**nhub and other adult websites are remaining blocked in Thailand as they apparently “conflict with good morals for upstanding citizens”. The Thai Government says the websites encourage “poor moral standpoints and can affect youth in a negative manner”.

The Acting Minister of Digital Economy and Society and current Minister of Culture says that the decision that was made by the previous office holder will be upheld. The decision also includes keeping other popular adult websites blocked as the Thai Government has labelled them to be “obscene”. But the move to ban adult content has brought protests with those disagreeing saying such sites are a part of freedom of expression.

A houseowner in the central province of Ang Thong, central Thailand, has discovered 3 skeletons on his land that are thought to be over 3,000 years old. 54 year old Somkiat Briboon says this most recent discovery isn’t the first, as the first lot of bones was found last year after preparing his 17 rai plot of land to be rented out for sugarcane farming.

The Thai PM says he’s ordered an investigation into allegations that the military has been using fraudulent social media accounts to aggravate the ongoing unrest in southern Thailand. Facebook has announced the removal of 185 accounts and groups that it has accused of “information-influencing”, targeting audiences in the deep south of the country, where Muslim insurgents continue to fight for independence. The PM says he’s tasked the Defence Ministry with looking into the matter and explaining it to the public.

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Pattaya announces plans to hold Songkran Festival

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Pattaya announces plans to hold Songkran Festival | The Thaiger

The tourist city of Pattaya is holding Thai New Year, or Songkran Festival, this year as long as they receive the “go ahead” from the government. The Pattaya City Mayor, Sonthaya Khunplume, made the announcement today, saying that the water festival will be held with all the traditional activities including those taking place at temples.

Songkran is the biggest holiday of the year for Thai people and falls on the public holidays from April 10 to 15. Pattaya City officials say they have a plan to celebrate the “Big Day” of Wan Lai on April 19, which will include water fights, as long as the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration and the Ministry of Public Health approves it.

The event, which is hoped to domestic tourism and the local economy, will feature covid precautions. Mask-wearing and going through screening checkpoints will be part of the safety measures for the event, as well as crowd limits, temperature checks and social distancing.

The Pattaya City mayor has pointed towards the city’s past successes in holding events under the Covid-19 safety measures. Such events included fireworks and music festivals. He went on to assure that holding the Songkran Festival would be successful as well under the Covid safety regulations.

Recently, Pattaya City launched the “Welcome Back Pattaya” campaign to lure domestic tourists back to the city as Covid-19 situation has continually improved. The campaign is aimed towards attracting domestic tourists and is expected to boost the local economy after many businesses in the province were ordered to close last month.

Those businesses were already struggling to survive as many hotels took their featured restaurants to the streets by offering take-away meals and street stalls. Schools, entertainment venues, gyms, pools among others have reopened with travel restrictions, for people entering the province, also having been lifted.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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Pro-democracy group to reach outskirts of Bangkok after almost 250 kilometre walk

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Pro-democracy group to reach outskirts of Bangkok after almost 250 kilometre walk | The Thaiger

A group of pro-democracy protestors, on an almost 250 kilometre walk, are expected to reach the outskirts of Bangkok today. The group has been walking for 17 days, starting from the Thao Suranaree statue in Korat province’s Muang district to protest the imprisonment of 9 pro-democracy demonstrators who are being denied bail.

The demonstrators imprisoned include 4 protest leaders from Ratsadon named Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak, Anon Nampa, Somyot Pruksakasemsuk and Patiwat “Morlum Bank” Saraiyeam. The 247.5-kilometre march, named “Walk Through the Sky: Bring Back the People’s Power,” started on February 16. Jatupat “Pai Dao Din” Boonpattararaksa, from the student-led protest group Ratsadon, is leading the walking protesters and says they have been held in jail without bail since February 9.

The 4 are facing charges under Article 112, which prohibits lese-majeste, or the defaming of the Thai Royal Monarchy. Lese-majeste carries a jail sentence of 3 to 15 years. They are also facing charges of sedition under Article 116 of the Criminal Code, which carries a jail term of 7 years, as they are accused of organising pro-democracy rallies.

“The ignition and the fuel for the walk is simple. They have started to incarcerate our friends while denying their bail requests, which made it impossible for us to do nothing.”

The court has denied the demonstrators bail requests 4 times now, citing that their release would create more unrest.

Pai said he emphathises with the detained protestors as he has been imprisoned for lese-majeste before. He says he spent 2 years and 6 months in prison for sharing a BBC Thai’s biography of the monarch on Facebook.

“When I was in jail, there were people outside who were protesting for my release so now that my friends are in jail by an unfair law while being denied their right to political expression, I must come out and do something.”

“A walk is a type of a fight against injustice and we choose to fight this way in order to peacefully spread the words about police brutality, the uses of various laws to silence dissidents, the plights of the poor and the mismanagement of the government’s covid-relief measures and natural resources.”

The walk-in protest group is expected to reach Zeer Rangsit in Pathumthani around 5:30 pm today and will camp out near the department store before marching at the Bang Khen intersection tomorrow. On Sunday, the march is expected to end at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument.

SOURCE: Thai Enquirer

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