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Phuket Gazette World News: Missing Malaysian jet may have disintegrated in mid-air – source

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Phuket Gazette World News: Missing Malaysian jet may have disintegrated in mid-air – source | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: Officials investigating the disappearance of a Malaysia Airlines jetliner with 239 people on board suspect it may have disintegrated in mid-flight, a senior source said on Sunday, as Vietnam reported a possible sighting of wreckage from the plane.

International police agency Interpol confirmed that at least two passports recorded in its database as lost or stolen were used by passengers on the flight, raising suspicions of foul play.

Nearly 48 hours after the last contact with Flight MH370, mystery still surrounded its fate. Malaysia’s air force chief said the Beijing-bound airliner may have turned back from its scheduled route before it vanished from radar screens.

“The fact that we are unable to find any debris so far appears to indicate that the aircraft is likely to have disintegrated at around 35,000 feet,” a source involved in the investigations in Malaysia told Reuters.

If the plane had plunged intact from close to its cruising altitude, breaking up only on impact with the water, search teams would have expected to find a fairly concentrated pattern of debris, said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to discuss the investigation publicly.

Asked about the possibility of an explosion, such as a bomb, the source said there was no evidence yet of foul play and that the aircraft could have broken up due to mechanical causes.

Dozens of military and civilian vessels have been criss-crossing waters beneath the aircraft’s flight path, but have found no confirmed trace of the lost plane, although oil slicks have been reported in the sea south of Vietnam and east of Malaysia.

Late on Sunday, the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam said on its website that a Vietnamese navy plane had spotted an object in the sea suspected of being part of the plane, but that it was too dark to be certain. Search planes were set to return to investigate the suspected debris at daybreak.

Widening search

“The outcome so far is there is no sign of the aircraft,” Malaysian civil aviation chief Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said.

“On the possibility of hijack, we are not ruling out any possibility,” he told reporters.

The Malaysian authorities said they were widening the search to cover vast swathes of sea around Malaysia and off Vietnam, and were investigating at least two passengers who were using false identity documents.

The passenger manifest issued by the airline included the names of two Europeans – Austrian Christian Kozel and Italian Luigi Maraldi – who, according to their foreign ministries, were not on the plane. Both had apparently had their passports stolen in Thailand during the past two years.

The BBC reported that the men falsely using their passports had purchased tickets together and were due to fly on to Europe from Beijing, meaning they did not have to apply for a Chinese visa and undergo further checks.

An employee at a travel agency in Pattaya, in Thailand, told Reuters the two had purchased the tickets there.

Interpol maintains a vast database of more than 40 million lost and stolen travel documents, and has long urged member countries to make greater use of it to stop people crossing borders on false papers.

The global police organisation confirmed that Kozel’s and Maraldi’s passports had both been added to the database after their theft in 2012 and 2013 respectively. But it said no country had consulted the database to check either of them since the time they were stolen.

“Whilst it is too soon to speculate about any connection between these stolen passports and the missing plane, it is clearly of great concern that any passenger was able to board an international flight using a stolen passport listed in Interpol’s databases,” Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble said in a statement.

In a sign that Malaysia’s airport controls may have been breached, Prime Minister Najib Razak said security procedures were being reviewed.

Four suspects

Malaysian Transport Minister Hishamuddin Hussein said authorities were also checking the identities of two other passengers. He said help was also being sought from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). However, an attack was only one of the possibilities being investigated.

“We are looking at all possibilities,” he said. “We cannot jump the gun. Our focus now is to find the plane.”

The 11-year-old Boeing 777-200ER, powered by Rolls-Royce Trent engines, took off at 12:40 a.m. on Saturday(1640 GMT Friday) from Kuala Lumpur International Airport, with 227 passengers and 12 crew on board.

It last had contact with air traffic controllers 120 nautical miles off the east coast of the Malaysian town of Kota Bharu. Flight tracking website flightaware.com showed it flew northeast after takeoff, climbed to 35,000 ft (10,670 metres) and was still climbing when it vanished from tracking records.

There were no reports of bad weather.

“What we have done is actually look into the recording on the radar that we have and we realised there is a possibility the aircraft did make a turnback,” Rodzali Daud, the Royal Malaysian Air Force chief, told reporters at a news conference.

The search was being extended to the west coast of the Malay peninsula, in addition to a broad expanse of the sea between Malaysia and Vietnam, he said.

Vietnamese naval boats sent from the holiday island of Phu Quoc patrolled stretches of the Gulf of Thailand, scouring the area where an oil slick was spotted by patrol jets just before nightfall on Saturday.

Besides the Vietnamese vessels, Malaysia and neighbouring countries have deployed 34 aircraft and 40 ships in the search. China and the United States have sent ships to help, and Washington has also deployed a maritime surveillance plane.

U.S. officials from Boeing, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Aviation Administration were on the way to Asia to help in investigations, NTSB said in a statement. Boeing said it was monitoring the situation but had no further comment.

The airline has said 14 nationalities were among the passengers, including at least 152 Chinese, 38 Malaysians, seven Indonesians, six Australians, five Indians, four French and three Americans.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Pattaya

Pandemic has washed away Pattaya’s “soapy” massage parlours

The Thaiger

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Pandemic has washed away Pattaya’s “soapy” massage parlours | The Thaiger

While the Covid pandemic has hit Thailand’s businesses hard, it has also washed away its not-so-legal soapy massage parlours after tourism has dried up its clientele. Such places, known as glorified brothels, have left many masseuses out of work as boards have barricaded the once booming establishments.

Soapy Massage (àap-òp-nûat, อาบอบนวด, literally bath, steam, massage)…
These are the bigger massage parlours where girls are presented in the fishbowl and you get the full program (including sex) for a fixed price, depending on the girl starting from 1,500 and up to 5,000 Baht.

Only a few of the soapy services have survived the pandemic in Pattaya, with Honey Massage Parlour being one of them, according to The Pattaya Mail. After adjusting to the new requirements for social distancing, the business has re-opened on November 19. However, its largest shop has closed, once known as Honey 1 on Soi Honey, or Soi 11, the windows are dark and barricaded. Honey Inn is also up for sale.

25 year old masseuse Maywadee, says she used to work in such parlours where she would get a cut of the 1,500 to 2,500 baht fee. She says she used to see up to 7 clients a day, but now that number has been cut in half as Chinese and Japanese tourists, who were her largest group of customers have dwindled. Now, she is thinking about heading back to her home city of Chiang Mai, to sell handicrafts, as her Pattaya income has dried up.

Such parlours feature masseuses that are usually not native to the area, as many come from lower socio-economic areas such as Thailands northeastern provinces, otherwise known as Isaan. Many make the trip to tourist-driven cities like Pattaya, Koh Samui, Bangkok and others, in an attempt to make a higher salary than they would if they were back in Isaan.

SOURCE: The Pattaya Mail

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Tourism

Phuket sees 300 million baht boost over long holiday weekend

The Thaiger

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Phuket sees 300 million baht boost over long holiday weekend | The Thaiger

The Tourism Authority of Thailand says that Phuket has received a much-needed 300 million baht boost over the 4 day long weekend with around 54,000 tourists flocking to the island from last Thursday through to yesterday.

Phuket Office Director Nanthasiri Ronnasiri, reports that the average expenditure per visitor was about 5,500 baht, which was higher than the average spend for a Thai tourist to Phuket 2 years ago. She also noted that random checks on hotels showed that occupancy rates climbed to about 35%, with most guests staying 2 nights. But most of Phuket’s hotels remain closed.

Nanthasiri also says that many of the tourists concentrated themselves in the Phuket Old Town area, especially around Thalang Road, Phang Nga Road, and Dibuk Road in order to enjoy at the Sino-Portuguese shophouse architecture and historical locations. In fact much of Phuket Town, including its many markets and alley eateries, were doing roaring business, The Thaiger can vouch for the heavy traffic, on the roads and footpaths, over the past 4 days.

“This special holiday made Phuket tourism livelier, even though it was not as same as the situation before the Covid-19 pandemic.”

In fact, despite the welcome surge of visitors, it was still a long, long way from its previous tourist levels with much of the west coast, which has largely catered for the international tourist traffic, was still very quiet in places like Patong, Kata and Karon.

Phuket wasnt the only destination that has profited off of the long weekend as Chiang Mai saw droves of Thai tourists visiting its Royal Park Rajapruek as well as the northern city’s other nearby national parks and tourist areas. Visitors came from all over to see the blossoming of flowers in a beautiful display at the park as well as enjoying the air-purifying flowers as they relaxed. Tourists were able to rent a bicycle for 60 baht if they wanted to exercise while taking in the scenery and could also pay a visit to the orchid greenhouse, which hosts a variety of orchids in bloom. TripAdvisor recommends to set aside 2 hours to visit the park.

Next holiday weekend, on November 27 and 28, Pattaya is expected to get a tourism boost as its annual fireworks festivalis set to bring in travellers who have taken advantage of package deals offered by some beachside hotels. Such packages were offered for advance bookings, where holidaymakers could view the firework shows on the rooftops of their hotels. The firework displays are said to be long with breaks of entertainment-packed shows, featuring live music and student bands amongst others.

Phuket sees 300 million baht boost over long holiday weekend | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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Pattaya

Mother travels to Pattaya to desperately search for her missing daughter

The Thaiger

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Mother travels to Pattaya to desperately search for her missing daughter | The Thaiger

50 year old Chanapa Yuthiya has travelled from Chaiyaphum province to Pattaya, over 400 kilometres, to desperately search for her missing daughter. The grandmother has taken her 7 month old granddaughter along, after she says her daughter has been out of touch and unable to be reached since November 17.

Chanapa filed a complaint to Pattaya City police last Thursday after her 24 year old daughter Tevika Yuthiya went missing from an entertainment venue in the Pattaya area at about 8pm. Tevika was reportedly working at the venue, but her mother says she suffers from consciousness issues and mental disorders. Chanapa says her daughter has displayed reckless and unintentional behaviour in the past, which undoubtedly worries her more.

Furthermore, Chanapa says it is very rare to not speak with her daughter every day and after her daughter went quiet, she posted several pictures of her daughter on social media and has asked local media agencies for help. The latest in the case, according to Chanapa, is that Tevika is living with a man in Pattaya, but the man won’t say where and has refused to give his address. He further claimed that Tevika did not want to return home. The man’s nationality, age and name is not clear.

Chanapa expressed her concerns to the local media as she cried while saying that she wants her daughter to come back to meet her own daughter as everyone around them is very worried about her safety. She also states that if Tevika comes back, she will help her get treatment for her alleged mental disorder at a hospital. It is not known, however, why the man is saying that Tevika does not want to return home.

She stated that anyone who can help find her daughter or give clues, can contact the Pattaya Police in person or call the city call center at 1337.

Mother travels to Pattaya to desperately search for her missing daughter | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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