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Warning for boats going to sea in Phuket

The Thaiger

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Warning for boats going to sea in Phuket | The Thaiger
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The Phuket Marine Office has made an official announcement for boats to be “careful when going to sea until September 18, due to Typhoon Mangkhut.

The announcement was issued yesterday (September 12) stating that “the Typhoon Mangkhut in the Pacific Ocean is likely to move through The Philippines and Taiwan during the period from September 14-15.”

“It will then move into the South China Sea and move towards Hong Kong before making landfall over southern China by September 16-18 .”

“The strong south-west monsoon will continue over the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand. More rain and some heavy downpours are forecast for the country, especially in the western monsoonal areas – the Central, the East and the South (west coast).”

“The strong winds and waves in the Andaman Sea cold create waves up to 2-3 meters high. All boats should proceed with caution and small boats keep ashore until September 18.

“When going to sea boat operators and captains must ensure that boats and safety equipment are ready at all times. Passengers ‘should’ wear life jackets at all times they are on boats. Boat captains must follow the directions from officers at each pier.”

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Crime

Expat in Koh Samui Prison on drug charges, nearly $3,000 raised to get her out

Caitlin Ashworth

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Expat in Koh Samui Prison on drug charges, nearly $3,000 raised to get her out | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Facebook: Ashley Oosthuizen

A 21 year old South African woman is locked in Thai prison after she allegedly signed for a package containing 250 grams of MDMA, an ingredient in ecstasy, according to a GoFundMe account. People say she’s innocent and have raised $2,966 USD to get her out. She’s apparently facing drug charges that carry life imprisonment.

Ashley Oosthuizen has been living in Thailand for more than 2 years. She worked as a teacher at an international school in Koh Samui, according to her Facebook page. The GoFundMe page says Ashley started Hot in the Biscuit, a breakfast and brunch restaurant on the island.

“She is well known in the community and liked by all who meet her. She is truly a wonderful human being with a heart of gold.”

While Ashley was at work, a package was delivered and addressed to her former boss. She signed for the package, but didn’t open it and set it aside. Later, the police raided the shop and searched the package, finding 250 grams of MDMA, according to the GoFundMe page.

Apparently, Ashley was arrested and charged with importation with intent to distribute a Category 1 narcotic. Importing a Category 1 substances carries a penalty of up to life imprisonment and a fine of 1 million to 5 million baht under Thailand’s Narcotics Act.

“The case against her is absolutely horrible – there is no evidence excepting the unopened package addressed to her former friend but because the package contained 250 grams of drug they are holding her as the one responsible.”

The GoFundMe page says Ashley was drug tested and came out negative. Her friends say they expect the case to be dismissed, but say Thai courts move “painfully slow” and they don’t want Ashley spending time behind bars waiting for a court date.

“Thai prisons are not like Western prisons. She cannot stay there so long. She is only 21 years old. She is an innocent victim.”

To donate to the GoFundMe account, or to read about Ashley’s story, click HERE.

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Transport

Koh Samui tourism operators want cheaper flights to lure tourists

Caitlin Ashworth

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Koh Samui tourism operators want cheaper flights to lure tourists | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Chiang Rai Times

Koh Samui needs more visitors, from anywhere. A number of hotels on the island, one of Thailand’s popular tourist destinations hit by the pandemic-induced travel bans, are certified for alternative local state quarantine, or ALSQ, and now tourism officials are looking to lure travellers in with cheaper flights.

Getting the prices lower could be difficult. President of the Tourism Association of Koh Samui, Vorasit Pongkumpunt, says both the airport and pier are owned by the private sector (in the car of the Airport, Bangkok Airways). Their monopoly has kept the cost of air fares to Samui inordinately high, when compared to most other air travel costs around the country.

“We want the government to find any practical solutions to help travellers visiting Samui with cheaper transport costs… Unfortunately, all entry points to the island – both airport and pier – are owned by the private sector. Bargaining for price reduction is hard.”

Tourism operators talk about the idea of lowering flight costs at a meeting next month focused on tourism stimulus plans for the southern provinces Phuket and Surat Thani, which includes Koh Samui. Vorasit says the island is ready to welcome international travellers on the new Special Tourist Visa.

A number of the island’s hotels, including 5-star resorts, on the island have been approved as ALSQ facilities and Koh Samui is now at healthcare capacity, Vorasit says.

4 luxury reports on the island, owned by Asset World Corp, a developer under the Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi’s TCC Group, are certified as ALSQ facilities. The hotels have trained staff and partnered with hospitals, according to the property developer’s chief hospitality group officer, Stephan Vanden Auweele. The hotels have also been inspected by authorities, but the Bangkok Post says the operators still want clarity about the Special Tourist Visa scheme.

While many tourist destinations have been preparing for potential visitors on the Special Tourist Visa scheme, plans have been sketchy, to say the least. A flight scheduled for earlier this month was delayed, with some saying it was postponed and scheduled to arrive after the Phuket Vegetarian Festival. Thailand’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson announced a few days later that no one in Guangzhou, China had actually applied for the visa. A group of visitors are now scheduled to arrive in Bangkok tomorrow.

The ban on international tourists has been in place for the past 6 months. Stephan says lifting border restrictions is important and tourism operators need the foreign visitors to survive.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Koh Samui

The Raja 4 salvage operations completed after the ferry sank off Koh Samui on August 1

The Thaiger

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The Raja 4 salvage operations completed after the ferry sank off Koh Samui on August 1 | The Thaiger

Salvage operations have been completed for the Raja 4 car and passenger ferry which sank off the coast of Surat Thani, heading back from Koh Samui in the Gulf of Thailand, on August 1. 12 people drowned as a result of the sinking.

The ferry foundered and sank in a sudden weather front about 2 nautical miles from Koh Samui as it headed for the Don Sak pier on the mainland. There was poor weather, driving rain and waves up to 3 metres at the time, according to people on the ferry. The Raja 4 was carrying 16 people, four 10-wheel garbage trucks and a pick-up. 3 of the garbage trucks had already been salvaged along with their loads of compressed garbage compacted at the island before transport.

Of the 16 people on board at the time, 12 were eventually rescued and 4 drowned, including the captain of the ferry. Helicopters from the Army and Navy were used to assist in the search operations. The life rafts were deployed by crew at the time as the ferry started sinking but not all passengers were able to scramble onto them before it sank.

2 other ferries in the area at the time steamed to the scene and were able to rescue 9 of the passengers and crew. Another 3 were rescued in the days after, 2 were swimming to nearby Koh Taen and were rescued, both wearing life jackets.

One of the 2 men found floating in the waters near the deserted island says that when everyone on the ferry realised that the boat was going to sink they all put on lifejackets. He told police that he became separated from the rest of the passengers because he was caught on the other side of the boat when it started sinking. One of the rescued men told police that they were separated from the rest of the passengers because they were caught on the other side of the boat when it started sinking.

“The water swept me away from the ship very quickly. Later I saw the island and then tried to swim toward it.”

MS Service Company was contracted to salvage the Raja 4. The company used 2 crane barges to left the wreckage from the bottom of the Gulf of Thailand where it was resting on its side. After lifting, the water was pumped out and the vessel towed back to Koh Samui.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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