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article imageThousands of Foreigners Flee Bangkok

By Leo Reyes     Dec 1, 2008 in Politics
This is about the occupation of two Bangkok airports by militant protesters that stranded thousands of tourists and businessmen for about a week now. Police failed to retake the airport and disperse the protesters
Thousands for foreigners flee Bangkok by land; most of them are headed for the Northern City of Chiang Mai. Many of the travelers are scheduled to be airlifted through the initiative of their respective countries.
It was reported that airport operations in Chiang Mai has not been disrupted. An alternative pick-up point is U-Tapao Naval Station Airport but it has only one runway and can only allow limited number of aircrafts.
Australia’s Qantas Airline announced that they are willing to provide extra flights to Thailand “ but that is dependent upon getting access to the airports and getting flights in” said Stephen Smith, Australia’s Foreign Minister.
Two major airlines from Japan, the All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines are scheduling flights to U-Tapao Naval Airport to pick up Japanese Tourists who were stranded in Bangkok. Other foreign carriers that are scheduling flights to Thailand to bring back stranded travelers to their home countries include Cathay Pacific, Philippine Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, China Airlines, Air Asia, Jet Star, Silk Air and other privately owned aircrafts.
Korean Airlines have sent special flights a few days ago. Spain and other countries with stranded passengers in Thailand are likewise sending their air carriers.
The prolonged airport shutdown is worrying investors in Thailand as the militant protesters are getting restless. The standoff could break into a full blown anarchy and chaos if not properly handled. Some travelers are asking why the military and the King of Thailand have not stepped in to break the impasse.
In the meantime, the Prime Minister of Thailand, Somchai Wongsawat is trying to govern from Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. Orders and directives issued by his office are not being implemented fully by the police and military for fear of violent reprisal from the militant protesters.
The People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) the group that is spearheading the demonstration and occupation to the premier airport in Bangkok has not heeded the call of the Prime Minister for them to leave the airport peacefully. PAD is calling on the Prime Minister to step down saying that he is being used as a puppet of the former Prime Minister Thaksin who is in exile in Hong Kong. Somchai is the brother-in-law of the former prime minister.
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