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Death toll approaches 400 in Sulawesi earthquake aftermath

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Death toll approaches 400 in Sulawesi earthquake aftermath | The Thaiger

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.

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South Korea leads the way with entrepreneurship in Asia

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South Korea leads the way with entrepreneurship in Asia | The Thaiger

by DataLEADS – Asia News Network

South Korea tops the region in ‘entrepreneurship environment’ with a score of 54%, in the recently released Global Entrepreneurship Index.

The country jumped three spaces up from the last year. The tech giant has been ahead of producing new technologies and introducing new products to customers. It is closely followed by Singapore and Japan with a score of 53% and 52%respectively.

China is ranked fourth in the region with a score of 41%. China’s physical infrastructure contributes to the country’s score followed by its market dynamics. It is followed by Brunei and Malaysia that have as score of 34% and 33% respectively.

India is ranked seventh in the region with a score of 28%, just ahead of Thailand which sits in the middle of the list of countries with an ‘entrepreneurship environment’.

Sri Lanka is ranked eleventh in the region. The country performed poorly in crucial indicators such as process innovation and technology absorption capacity, while performing above the global and regional averages in competition and product innovation. It is followed by Indonesia, Laos and Cambodia.

Pakistan, Myanmar and Bangladesh are ranked lowest in the region with a score of 16%, 14% and 12% respectively.

According to the report, the region’s lowest scores on average are in the area of Risk Acceptance.

“If countries in the region improve their overall risk profile as well as the populations’ attitudes towards taking risks, it is likely that the entrepreneurship ecosystems in the Asia-Pacific region will gain ground,” reads the report.

South Korea leads the way with entrepreneurship in Asia | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: The Nation

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SE Asia

The Boracay renovation re-opens on October 26

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The Boracay renovation re-opens on October 26 | The Thaiger

Fewer hotels, no smoking or partying on the beaches. And construction works will still be going on. Welcome to the new Boracay.

The Philippines’ tourist magnet will reopen on October 26 after phase one of the island’s rehabilitation is completed. But work is on-going improving roads, constructing sewage systems and some beaches still remain in a ‘critical condition’. Some hotels won’t be re-opening until next year as they sort out their basic infrastructure and sewage, as per the demands of The Philippines government.

And it’s not as if they’re making new air fares cheap or the schedules easy from gateway cities Singapore, Hong Kong and Bangkok. Travel time can reach an unbearable 21 hours depending on which routes you take.

The Philippines president, Rodrigo Duterte, surprised the island’s travel industry back in April when he described Boracay as a ‘cesspool’. He ordered an unprecedented shutdown closing the island to tourists for six months to clean up the sea and end the practice of pumping raw sewage into bays where tourists thought it was safe to swim.

ttrweekly.com reports that airlines stopped all flights to two airports, Caticlan and Kalibo, both on the neighouring Panday island that served visitors to Boracay. Kalibo, which is 68 km from the Caticlan ferry port has more international flights, while Caticlan airport, just a short distance to the ferry port, is served mainly by domestic flights from Manila, Cebu or Clark. Travellers take the ferry across the narrow 2 km straits between Panday and Boracay islands.

The first flight, courtesy of Cebu Pacific, will land at Caticlan airport October 26 from Manila, 315 km to the north.

One of Boracay’s beaches, appropriately named Bulabog, will still under a construction cloud as the new sewage works there are behind schedule. But most of the other beaches are back in business although with fewer hotels and hotel rooms.

Before you head off to Boracay note that the “Party at the Beach” tagline, adopted for the island’s advertising campaign, is no longer valid.  Beach parties are now banned. No drinking, no littering and take your cigarettes elsewhere please! Officials say they will strictly enforce the new beach code.

But we are told White Beach is ready and waiting for the first tourist footfall to get economic recovery for the 35,000 island residents back on track.

Government officials confirmed that around 90 resorts of the 296 properties registered would be compliant with new regulations on sewage treatment by October 26. It should give the island around 5,000 rooms down from the 15,000 that were in business last April.

Logistics are still critical for getting tourists to Boracay and the flights and connections are still unfriendly.

Caticlan (MPH) is the most convenient airport for the land and ferry transfer to Boracay but it requires a change of plane in Manila, Clark or Cebu.  The alternative is Kalibo, 65 km from the ferry port serving Boracay.

Out of Singapore, Cebu Pacific’s best fare is US$289 on Skyscanner compared with US$345 if you book direct on the airline’s website.

Out of Bangkok, AirAsia has the best deal to Boracay at US$279 roundtrip, but the trip is a long-haul trek of 13 hours and 50 minutes departing Bangkok at 2115 and arriving at 1200 on the following day at Caticlan. There’s a change of plane in Manila.

Read the rest of the story HERE.

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Giving peace a chance – Malaysian PM visits Thailand next week

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Giving peace a chance – Malaysian PM visits Thailand next week | The Thaiger

PHOTO: The Nation

This year’s Malaysian election has opened up new opportunities for peace negotiations over the long-running border clashes and insurgency in southern Thailand.

New Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad, who will visit Thailand next week,  says he is keen to solve the  conflicts in southern Thailand coupled with the upcoming general elections in Thailand, which “provide a new window of opportunity for peace in the trouble-plagued region.”

Panitan Wattanayagorn, an advisor to Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan in the area of security affairs, spoke to ThaiPBS World on Thursday evening, saying that signals from various militant groups in the three southern-most provinces have also been encouraging.

“The two day visit by PM Mahathir to Bangkok on October 24 will provide an important opportunity for Thailand and Malaysia to demonstrate their commitment in addressing the violence that has claimed thousands of lives in the three provinces over the past several years.”

Giving peace a chance - Malaysian PM visits Thailand next week | News by The Thaiger

Abdul Rahim Noor, a former inspector general of Malaysian police who was recently appointed a new facilitator for the Malaysia-brokered peace talks between the Thai Government and the Mara Patani, an umbrella group of various insurgent factions, will also be attending meetings about the conflict.

Panitan described Rahim Noor as an “old hand” with experience dealing with issues on Thai-Malaysian border dating back to the days of the Communist Party of Malaya.    The appointment of Rahim Noor as the new facilitator coincides with a change in the team of Thai officials charged with carrying out the peace talks.

Panitan said, in the interview, that the stalled peace process in southern Thailand has now reached a critical stage.

“The political changes in Malaysia and PM Mahathir’s expressed desire to help Thailand solve the conflicts should provide a new window of opportunity for the peace process,” he said.

He added that the new political context in Thailand, after the general elections early next year, should also provide new impetus to the peace dialogue.

In his first visit to Thailand after taking office following a dramatic election victory in May, the 93 year old Mahathir is expected to make discussion of Thai-Malaysian cooperation in addressing the insurgency problem a headline discussion with PM Prayut.

Giving peace a chance - Malaysian PM visits Thailand next week | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad

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