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Malaysia Airlines loses contact with plane carrying 239 people

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– World news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Malaysia Airlines loses contact with plane carrying 239 people
Phuket Gazette / Reuters

PHUKET: A Malaysia Airlines flight carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing lost contact with air traffic controllers early on Saturday, with the plane likely missing in Vietnamese airspace, the airline said in a statement.

Flight MH370, operating a Boeing B777-200 aircraft left Kuala Lumpur at 16:21 GMT and had been expected to land in the Chinese capital at 22:30 GMT the same day.

“We deeply regret that we have lost all contacts with flight MH370,” Malaysia Airlines Chief Executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said in a statement.

“Malaysia Airlines is currently working with the authorities who have activated their search-and-rescue teams to locate the aircraft,” it said.

An official at the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) said the plane had failed to check in as scheduled at 1721 GMT while it was flying over the sea between Malaysia and Ho Chi Minh city.

“It’s code didn’t appear in our system,” Bui Van Vo, the CAAV’s flight control department manager, told Reuters by telephone.

China’s official Xinhua news agency also quoted the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) as saying the flight lost contact while flying through Vietnamese airspace.

The CAAC said 158 Chinese nationals were on board the plane. China’s aviation regulators said they had not received any signals from the plane and that there had been no reports of any aircraft crashing in Chinese waters.

“We are extremely worried,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters in Beijing. “We are doing all we can to get details. The news is very disturbing. We hope everyone on the plane is safe.”

Chinese state TV also said there had not been any immediate reports of a plane crashing in Chinese waters.

If the plane is found to have crashed, the loss would mark the second fatal accident involving a Boeing 777 in less than a year, after an unblemished safety record since the jet entered service in 1995.

Last summer, an Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 crash-landed in San Francisco, killing three passengers.

Boeing said it was aware of reports that the Malaysia Airlines plane was missing and was monitoring the situation but had no further comment.

Malaysia Airlines said it was contacting the families of those on board flight MH370 and had set up support facilities for those affected.

“Focus of the airline is to work with the emergency responders and authorities and mobilize its full support,” the airline statement said.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with all affected passengers and crew and their family members.”

Distressed family members of those on board had also begun gathering at Beijing airport on Saturday.

Chang Ken Fei, a Malaysian waiting at Beijing airport for friends to arrive, said: “I got here at seven (a.m.). At first I thought the plane was just delayed as normal, so I came a bit later, I’ve just been waiting and waiting.

“I asked them what was going on but they just tell us ‘we don’t know’.”

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Politics

US Ambassador to Thailand quits after Biden inaugurated

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US Ambassador to Thailand quits after Biden inaugurated | The Thaiger

The US Ambassador to Thailand seems to have quit after only serving less than 1 year in office and moments after President Biden’s inauguration. Michael George DeSombre, who was appointed by President Trump in early 2020, made the announcement of his departure on the embassy’s official social media platform yesterday. A day before, he met with PM Prayut to “thank the Royal Thai Government” as is customary with departing ambassadors. DeSombre succeeded career diplomat Glyn T. Davies.

“It has been a privilege serving as the United States Ambassador to the Kingdom of Thailand. I am exceedingly proud of all we have done to strengthen the US-Thai relationship. I am signing off now from this account and leaving it in the good hands of our Embassy staff.”

Now, as the US Embassy official website names Chargé d’Affaires Michael Heath as its diplomatic mission leader, it is not known when a new ambassador will be chosen by the Biden administration.

Just last year in October, DeSombre wrote, on the same day that President Trump tested positive for the virus, that he was less than supportive of a full-blown shutdown.

“The evidence over the last six months shows that the costs of a really extreme shutdown are generally worse than the benefits and it is better to keep the economy running.”

According to Wikipedia, DeSombre co-founded Republicans Overseas for Americans abroad in 2013 in which the organisation focuses on tax reform. Upon his appointment as Ambassador, DeSombre stated that his office would primarily encourage the economic partnership between the two countries, with a focus on American investments and Thailand’s infrastructure projects and supply chains.

He has also said that US firms were interested in increasing investments in Thailand, including in areas under the 1966 Amity treaty. Thailand and the US established relations in 1818 and later formalised the ties in 1833.

SOURCE: Khaosod English

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World

US President Biden reverses Trump’s policies on first day of presidency

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US President Biden reverses Trump’s policies on first day of presidency | The Thaiger

Just after being sworn in, the new US President Joe Biden is reversing Donald Trump’s policies by signing 15 executive actions, principally targeting pandemic and climate change. Joe Biden, now America’s 46th President, said there is “no time to waste” as he referenced America’s battle with Covid-19.

“Some of the executive actions I’m going to be signing today are going to help change the course of the COVID crisis, we’re going to combat climate change in a way that we haven’t done so far and advance racial equity and support other underserved communities. These are just all starting points.”

Among his initiatives, President Biden signed a mask mandate for those on federal property and federal employees. He also signed an order to designate a new White House office to coordinate the response to Covid-19 while halting the process of withdrawing from the World Health Organisation. His press secretary, Jen Psaki, says his quick actions were just the beginning of many changes.

“The Day One plans were just the start of a flurry of executive actions Biden would take soon after entering office. In the coming days and weeks, we will be announcing additional executive actions that confront these challenges and deliver on the president-elect’s promises.”

President Biden signed documents to begin the process of rejoining the Paris climate accord, including revoking the permit that was granted by former President Trump to the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

President Biden stopped Donald Trump’s emergency declaration that funded the border wall’s construction and ended travel bans on some majority-Muslim countries. It was reported that he will also reverse the ban on transgenders joining the military and reverse a policy that blocks US funding for abortion programs overseas.

He also asked to extend a moratorium on housing evictions until the end of March and on student loan payments until the end of September.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid-19 travel pass to pilot on Etihad and Emirates Airways flights

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Covid-19 travel pass to pilot on Etihad and Emirates Airways flights | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Travel Daily

A travel pass for passengers inoculated against Covid-19 or who have tested negative will be piloted on flights for Dubai’s Emirates and Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways. With the travel pass issued by the International Air Transport Association, passengers can keep control of their data and share their test results with airlines and authorities for travel.

The travel pass will be offered on selected flights from Abu Dhabi in the first quarter, and will expand the pass to other destinations of the trail is successful. Emirates is going to implement phase 1 of the travel pass in April for flights departing from Dubai.

Recently, the IATA travel pass programme has been also tested in International Airlines Group and Singapore Airlines.

SOURCE: Reuters

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