Rescuers are still struggling to reach remote communities on the island of Sulawesi hit by an earthquake and tsunami just before 6pm, local time, on Friday.
A spokesperson of the local disaster agency has confirmed that the official death toll is now up to 384, almost all from the coastal township of Palu as a result of a tsunami. A beach festival was just about to start and local muslims were heading to evening prayers when the 7.5 magnitude earthquake hit and produced the 2-3 metre high wall of water sweeping into the coastal town of approximately 335,000.
A large mosque, a multi-story shopping centre and 80-room hotel are just some of the major structures to have been substantially damaged by the waves. The mosque was already damaged by the quake before the tsunami came crashing through.
Hospitals in Palu remain swamped with patients lying on the ground hooked to drips as NGOs flood in to provide relief to the hundreds of injured. Many of the injured are being treated outdoors due to ongoing aftershocks. Many residents in the area were also sleeping outside, afraid to head back indoors.
Other coastal townships’ local communications have been cut off and rescue workers haven’t yet reported from those areas, also expected to have been devastated by the tsunami.
In nearby Donggala, home to nearly 300,000 people, a large bridge with yellow arches that spanned a coastal river had collapsed.
But rescue workers predict the death toll will continue to soar as they reach some of the more remote communities of the island. Nine villages have made contact with rescue co-ordinators calling for assistance.
The US Geological Survey said the strongest quake on Friday had a magnitude of 7.5 and was centred at a depth of 10km, about 55 kilometres northeast of Donggala.
Golden Triangle drug labs increase shipments 1000% – Speed and Ice pouring over the border
The number of seizures of high-purity crystal methamphetamine are surging into northern Thailand. The demand rises and the methods of detection and enforcement also improve. It’s a vicious circle.
Authorities say the number of drug seizures have risen 1000% in just the past 2 years, a stark indication of the growth in industrial-scale production in neighboring Myanmar.
Some 18.4 tonnes of crystal methamphetamine or ‘ice’, was seized in Thailand last year, according to preliminary statistics from the Thai Office of the Narcotics Control Board. They know it’s a tiny proportion of the amounts produced and shipped out undetected.
That figure is up from 5.2 tonnes in 2017 and 1.6 tonnes in 2016. It’s more than three times the amount captured across all of Southeast Asia five years ago – a staggering rise in production and distribution.
Thailand remains a major trafficking route for the artificial drug manufactured in Myanmar’s Shan and Kachin states – the north-eastern states of Myanmar that border China, Laos and Thailand.
Police say organised crime groups work with local pro-government militias and armed rebels to set-up “super labs” and allow transport through the regions to borders beyond.
The same mega-labs are also pumping out ‘cocktail’ tablets of methamphetamine, mixed with caffeine and other ‘fillers’. The drug is nicknamed ‘yaba’ in Thailand. Specialist chemists and ‘cooks’ are brought in from Taiwan and China to run the meth labs in Myanmar, while the ingredients and lab equipment mostly come from China.
The methamphetamine tablets are a low-grade recreational drug, inexpensive and popular with blue-collar workers and low-end recreational drug users across South East Asia. The price for a ‘yaba’ pill has plummeted from around 200 baht to 80 baht in the past five years.
But the Golden Triangle, bordering north-eastern Myanmar, Laos and Thailand, has a long history of illicit drug trafficking.
It came to the West’s notice as a cultivation hub for opium and heroin refining but those, now, easily detected crops are being replaced with methamphetamine production. The factories are easily hidden underneath the jungle canopy, and with the assistance of ‘co-operative’ local authorities, armed gangs and state-sponsored militias, the precursor drugs and final product move in and out with little trouble.
Once the drugs have made their way through Thailand the drug syndicates use “motherships” that intercept the drugs off the Andaman coast and distribute them to other parts of South East Asia, Australia and New Zealand.
Whilst the growth in production and purity of the drugs is alarming authorities, they are also intercepting and detecting a lot more of the road shipments making their way across the Thai borders. But they readily admit they are only netting a tiny part of the larger iceberg.
Despite the frequent showcasing of large drug hauls by Thai police, the vast majority of the drugs coming out of the back-doors of Myanmar’s meth labs are getting through undetected.
Lion Air flight slips off Borneo runway, landing in poor conditions – VIDEO
Another PR disaster for Lion Air, luckily no fatalities in this latest incident.
A Lion Air Boeing 737 with 189 people on board has skidded off a Borneo runway as the pilot tried to land during heavy rain. The Lion Air flight was coming in to land at the Supadio International Airport.
The aircraft was carrying 182 passengers and seven crew members, landing after a flight from Jakarta. Passengers were quickly evacuated and there were no injuries.
A Lion Air spokesperson Danang Mandala Prihantoro confirmed there were no injuries.
The Boeing 737-800NG jet was flying between Jakarta and Pontianak in Indonesia when it slipped from the landing strip and tumbled into the adjacent paddock.
The runway, which services a small number of international flights, was closed following the incident.
Mr Prihantoro said the Lion Air crew worked quickly to evacuate the plane and claims that visibility in the rain had met landing requirements. Mobile phone footage shows how the aircraft suddenly veered to the left before landing on the slippery tarmac.
Passengers had to scramble from the exit and walk along the wing. The wheels of the plane were almost entirely sunken into the ground.
Emergency services were pictured helping passengers escape the plane from an inflatable slide at the front door. Other workers were seen moving the broken wing of the jet as rain and fog continued to fall on the Indonesian island.
Another Lion Air jet, a Boeing 737 MAX, crashed into the Java Sea in October last year – killing all 189 passengers on board just 13 minutes after taking off. The airline has had 11 safety incidents since 2002.
Watch video of the landing HERE.
Thailand loses its ‘cheap living’ reputation – Numbeo
Many of Thailand’s most popular tourist and retiree destinations are becoming the most expensive places in Southeast Asia to settle down, being beaten by Malaysian and Indonesia counterparts.
The cost of living survey was conducted by comparison site Numbeo.
Comparing the region’s top 18 destinations, Numbeo lists Bangkok as the second most expensive city after Singapore.
But Pattaya, Phuket and Chiang Mai aren’t far behind in fourth, fifth and sixth place ahead of Malaysian island Penang in eighth place and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital, in ninth place. Third placed Phnom Penh was another surprise coming in with a higher cost of living than the three popular Thai destinations.
The cheapest cities in the cost of living index were Petaling Jaya, Malaysia (14th), Surabaya, Indonesia (15th), Cebu, Philippines (16th), Bandung, Indonesia (17th) and Davao, Philippines (18th).
The survey challenges Thailand’s ambitions to attract more foreign retirees as even Chiang Mai, a popular choice for long-stay retirees, turns out to be considerably more expensive than cities in Malaysia where rules for visa and land ownership are much more liberal.
Four-person family monthly costs: 85,801.01 baht (3,701.04S$) without rent.
A single person monthly costs: 23,955.75 baht (1,033.33S$) without rent.
Cost of living index in Singapore is 58.08% higher than in Chiang Mai.
Cost of living rank 113th out of 438 cities in the world.
Singapore has a cost of living index of 69.38.
Four-person family monthly costs: 75,851.11 baht without rent.
A single person monthly costs: 21,017.40 baht without rent.
Cost of living index in Bangkok is 28.97% higher than in Chiang Mai.
Cost of living rank 212th out of 438 cities in the world.
Bangkok has a cost of living index of 56.60.
3. Phnom Penh
Four-person family monthly costs: 62,678.04 baht (1,992.94$) without rent.
A single person monthly costs: 17,607.87 baht (559.87$) without rent.
Cost of living index in Phnom Penh is 7.22% higher than in Chiang Mai.
Cost of living rank 258th out of 438 cities in the world.
Phnom Penh has a cost of living index of 47.06.
Four-person family monthly costs: 60,832.93 baht without rent.
A single person monthly costs: 17,124.97 baht without rent.
Cost of living index in Pattaya is 7.45% higher than in Chiang Mai.
Cost of living rank 257th out of 438 cities in the world.
Pattaya has a cost of living index of 47.16.
Four-person family monthly costs: 59,252.24 baht without rent.
A single person monthly costs: 16,825.81 baht without rent.
Cost of living index in Phuket is 3.47% higher than in Chiang Mai.
Cost of living rank 271st out of 438 cities in the world.
Phuket has a cost of living index of 45.41.
6. Chiang Mai
Four-person family monthly costs: 58,357.60 baht without rent.
A single person monthly costs: 16,248.11 baht without rent.
Cost of living index in Chiang Mai is 22.46% lower than in Bangkok.
Cost of living rank 281st out of 438 cities in the world.
Chiang Mai has a cost of living index of 43.89.
Four-person family monthly costs: 58,254.79 baht (25,847,621.44Rp) without rent).
A single person monthly costs: 16,952.60 baht (7,521,858.76Rp) without rent.
Cost of living index in Jakarta is 1.61% lower than in Chiang Mai.
Cost of living rank 285th out of 438 cities in the world.
Jakarta has a cost of living index of 43.18.
Four-person family monthly costs: 55,021.51 baht (7,118.70RM) without rent.
A single person monthly costs: 15,234.92 baht (1,971.10RM) without rent.
Cost of living index in Penang is 2.32% lower than in Chiang Mai.
Cost of living rank 286th out of 438 cities in the world.
Penang has a cost of living index of 42.87.
9. Kuala Lumpur
Four-person family monthly costs: 55,600.29 baht (7,193.59RM) without rent.
A single person monthly costs: 15,596.31 baht (2,017.86RM) without rent.
Cost of living index in Kuala Lumpur is 3.89% lower than in Chiang Mai.
Cost of living rank 291st out of 438 cities in the world.
Kuala Lumpur has a cost of living index of 42.18.
Four-person family monthly costs: 55,857.68 baht (24,784,024.62Rp) without rent.
A single person monthly costs: 15,789.08 baht (7,005,608.83Rp) without rent.
Cost of living index in Bali is 4.50% lower than in Chiang Mai.
Cost of living rank 292th out of 438 cities in the world.
Bali has a cost of living index of 41.92.
Numbeo compares cost of living across all regions by studying factors such as transport, clothes and shoes, sports and leisure activities, markets, food, utilities, rents, and restaurants.Methodology
Cost of Living Index (Excl. Rent) is a relative indicator of consumer goods prices, including groceries, restaurants, transportation and utilities. Cost of Living Index doesn’t include accommodation expenses such as rent or mortgage. If a city has a Cost of Living Index of 120, it means Numbeo estimates it is 20% more expensive than New York (excluding rent).
Rent Index is an estimation of prices of renting apartments in the city compared to New York City. If Rent index is 80, Numbeo estimates that price of rents in that city is on an average 20% less than the price in New York.
Groceries Index is an estimation of grocery prices in the city compared to New York City. To calculate this section, Numbeo uses weights of items in the “Markets” section for each city.
Restaurants Index is a comparison of prices of meals and drinks in restaurants and bars compared to NYC.
Cost of Living Plus Rent Index is an estimation of consumer goods prices including rent comparing to New York City.
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