NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Japan Prince receives honorary degree from CMU

Heroin smugglers nabbed in Mae Hong Son

Tourist death from rare heart virus

BoT Governor visits Chiang Mai, reports on economic policy

Governor reports on deaths of 4 guests at local hotel

Forest fires cancel Mae Hong Son flights

Strong winds hit Lampang

Zonta President wins WIN Award of Excellence

Summer storms may bring dangers of billboard collapse, Mayor warns

Mae Hong Son residents queue around the block to buy palm oil

Drug smugglers nabbed in Lampang

Ranger firefight in Mae Ai yields one dead

 

Japan Prince receives honorary degree from CMU

Prince Akishino visited the Chiang Mai Zoo Aquarium where he was welcomed by the Chairman Roj Thuwanasin.

Chiang Mai Mail online reporters

Prince Fumihito Akishino of Japan was welcomed to Chiang Mai by Deputy Governor Worakan Khunyosying after he attended the graduation ceremony at Chiang Mai University on March 9 to receive an honorary doctorate.

Prince Fumihito Akishino was awarded an Honorary Doctorate Doctorate in the field of Human Management and Environment from CMU.

The Prince, who has worked closely with Thai higher educational institutes and the Fishery Department, has a keen interest in the fish of the Mekong River. He has studied the local cultures and traditions particularly related to fishing ceremonies and practices.

Prince Akishino graduated with a degree in Political Science from Nagkuchuin University in Japan and earned a Masters Degree in Zoology Oxford University in the United Kingdom. He earned a Doctorate in Ornithology from the Graduate University for Advanced Studies in 1996.

His long history of work in Thailand extends to introducing tilapia to Thailand as a farmable fish, and Prince Fumihito, known as a catfish specialist expanded aquacultural studies in Thailand.

He was awarded the Honorary Doctorate in the field of Human management and Environment in honor of the 120 years of the establishment of Thai – Japan relations.

After the conferral he paid a visit to the Chiang Mai Zoo and Zoo Aquarium where he was warmly greeted by Zoo Aquarium Chairman Roj Thuwanasin.

 

Heroin smugglers nabbed in Mae Hong Son

Drug sniffing dogs at the police checkpoint in Pai.

Khajohn Boonpath

Two Chiang Mai men smuggling heroin were uncovered at a police checkpoint in Pai on March 9. The two men were stopped by soldiers of the 7th Infantry Regiment Task Force at Ban Maeya, Pai district, according to Col Uthai Chaichana, the task force commander.

A search by drug sniffing dogs yielded heroind hidden in a plastic bag in one of the suspect’s underwear. The man confessed that they had bought the heroin from Yapo village in Tambon Maenatoeng in Pai district. The two suspects have been detained for further questioning.


Tourist death from rare heart virus

Chiang Mai Mail online reporters

Authorities are reporting that the family of Sarah Carter, the New Zealand girl who died while staying at the Downtown Inn, has been informed of the results of tests carried out overseas and that their daughter died from the ECHO (Enteric Cytopathic Human Orphan) virus, a highly infectious virus that can cause Myocarditis, or an inflammation of the heart muscle, in adults.

Dr. Pasakorn Akarasewi, met with New Zealand embassy staff on March 10 to give the report on the death of Sarah Carter, according to the NZ Press Association.

The death of the Thai tour guide who also stayed at the same hotel still remains unexplained and the earlier death of American woman Mariam Soraya Vorster on January 11 at a different hotel but with similar symptoms remains yet to be explained. The deaths of two British pensioners who also stayed at the Downtown Inn within two weeks of Sarah Carter have been explained by authorities as heart attacks.


BoT Governor visits Chiang Mai, reports on economic policy

Chiang Mai Mail online reporters

The Governor of the Bank of Thailand (BoT) discussed Thailand’s monetary and economic policies for 2011 at the BoT, Northern Region branch in Chiang Mai.

Governor Prasarn Trairatvorakul spoke at an annual academic seminar that “economic strength means all sectors reap benefits from economic growth, and I think, this is an important factor that is needed by everyone; - this inclusive growth.”

The Governor continued, “I have assigned Deputy and Assistant Governors of the BoT to meet business operators directly and regularly for a frank exchange of ideas and concerns. After I met and discussed with business operators in the North last month I could see that there is still a lot of existing potential in the private sector in the North.”

He said he had found that tourism industry continues to grow and is seeing benefits from the trade and tourism with neighboring countries.

He noted that Northern business owners continue to be concerned over several issues, firstly the insufficient commercial credit and bank loans which is an important obstacle to cash flow.

He said that the BoT does have a policy to directly control the release of bank loans, and added that the BoT want to ensure that financial institutes work efficiently and appropriately.

The BoT will also look at the process of releasing the bank loans from the commercial banks so that it is in line with the current economic status as a whole and with fairness and to ensure the stability and security of financial institutes.
“In general, I can assure you that the BoT will help solve obstacles for accessing into loans, and I ask for good cooperation that people sit and talk with the commercial banks to consult on the loans.
The Governor added that the BoT will also cooperate with agencies concerned to promote and encourage SME businesses with the banks loan to be given to them.

The second major issue he noted was the increasing prices of consumer goods from high oil prices.
“It’s not only a problem for the North but the whole country and the region. External factors and internal factors created higher inflation rates from the increasing demand. We will enact monetary policy to help demand and control inflation rates, so as to help prevent high investment costs which could also negatively affect prices.”

He added that the best way for this to occur was for the private sector to increase development and efficiency as well as reduce investment costs.

The final issue was the shortage of labor, he noted that a short term solution was to use migrant workers from neighboring countries, but added that the shortage is expected to worsen as the working age population declines. “I think one way to solve this is to speed up the production process by using less manpower and more machines and some good quality of labor forces instead. This is an important reason for the private sector to increase investment and develop potential,” he concluded.


Governor reports on deaths of 4 guests at local hotel

Chiang Mai Governor ML Panadda Diskul reports
on the deaths of four people in a local hotel.

By Phitsanu Thepthong

Chiang Mai authorities are still working urgently on the investigation of the deaths of four people at the Downtown Inn Hotel near the Night Bazaar last month it was reported at a press conference. In three separate cases a Thai tourist guide, a New Zealand student and a British couple all died at the same hotel within days of each other.

Chiang Mai Governor M.L. Panadda Diskul reported that samples are being sent to the U.S. and Japan for further investigation, especially in the case of the New Zealand girl, Sarah Carter, originally reported as food poisoning.

The Provincial Public Health Office, the Office of Epidemiology, the Communicable Disease Control and Prevention Center, Maharaj Nakhon Chiang Mai Hospital, the Institute for Forensic Medicine, forensic police and Chiang Mai Provincial Police are all involved in the cases.

Thai authorities said the cause of death in two cases was still not clear; Mrs. Waraporn Yinghasawanont, 47, a Thai tour guide who checked in and stayed at the hotel February 2. After sightseeing tours to Doi Suthep the previous day, she was found dead in the morning of February 3 in front of the bathroom in her hotel room. Doctors reported that she had asthma and Pol. Col. Montri Sampunnanont, the Deputy Chiang Mai Provincial Police Commander told the Chiang Mai Mail that she had been seen with labored breathing and that might be the cause of her death.

However, Dr. Paskorn Arkarasewee, the Director of the Office of Epidemiology said the real cause of the death of the guide Mrs. Waraporn had not been determined and that the cause of death of Sarah Carter, the New Zealand tourist, was still unclear.

A Chiang Mai Muang District Police said that Ms. Sarah Katherine Carter, 23, a student from New Zealand traveled from Phuket to Chiang Mai and checked in to the hotel on February 2 with two friends. On February 3 they were found seriously ill with vomiting and nausea so the hotel staff called an ambulance to take them the hospital for treatment where, on February 6, Sarah Carter died. The other two girls also ill, eventually recovered and returned home.

Dr. Derek Bunnachak of the Medical Faculty of Maharaj Nakhon Chiang Mai Hospital told Chiang Mai Mail that bacteria might be a cause of food poisoning. Dr. Pasakorn of the Epidemiology Office said they were seriously sick, with bad stomachaches and vomiting, and Miss Carter may have gone into shock from this. “This was really a rare case.”

He added that the primary diagnosis suspected the E Coli bacteria caused by unclean food. “However, samples were sent for further examination in both the United States and Japan to find the real cause,” confirmed Dr. Pasakorn Arkaraseree, Director of the Epidemiology Office.

Provincial Public Health Office Deputy Head Dr. Surasing Wisarutrat said the case will not be concluded until all test results are in. Doctors confirmed that they did not eat seaweed as earlier reports suggested.

The Governor expressed his sadness and concern over the death of the young New Zealand girl, “Thai authorities are looking hard at the case to find the cause and we will inform formally and immediately the family members through the New Zealand Embassy.

He spoke on behalf of Thai authorities that “We are very much concerned and definitely look after all visitors to Chiang Mai.” He has ordered government officials to step up inspection of all food shops, restaurants and hotel services to ensure food cleanliness.

Chiang Mai Police then reported that the elderly British couple, Eileen and George Everitt who checked into the hotel on February 9. They were scheduled to check out February 19 but when they did not appear, staff called their room and then entered the locked room with a master key after they had not answered the phone. There they found the couple dead, Eileen Everitt, age 74 on the bed and George Everitt, 78, sitting near the bed.

Police found no evidence of a break in, no signs of illness or vomiting, no drugs or poisonous substances in the room. It is believed the couple died on February 17 or early morning the 18th since they did not appear for breakfast on the 18th. Doctors reported that both couples suffered from severe blockage of the arteries that resulted in a coronary thrombosis.


Forest fires cancel Mae Hong Son flights

Planes are grounded in Mae Hong Son due to the poor
visibility caused by forest fires in the province.

Khajohn Boonpath

Forest fires have cancelled four air flights from Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son in the past two days.
Wild fires broke out around Mae Hong Son provincial town, resulting in very thick smoke with poor visibility forcing Nok Air to cancel flights on March 8.

The volume of minute particles continues to rise since the 8th and is nearly at the maximum allowed level, Peerat Ruangsuksai, chief of the Meteorological Station in Mae Hong Son said on March 9, 2011.

Nok Air has cancelled its four flights from Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son on March 8, as well as two more flights on March 9 forcing visitors to cancel their plans. Locals complain of burning and itching eyes and officials have measured the air quality with a PM10 level of 110.1 and the Air Quality Index level at 94.0, near the maximum safe level. Above 120 PM10 and 100 AQI officials warn of health hazards.

Wild fires broke out east of Wat Phrathart Doi Kongmu and in the mountainous areas of villages in Tambon Pang Moo and Tambon Huay Pooling, the remoteness of the locations has caused firefighters great difficulty in trying access the fires.

“There are forest fires around Mae Hong Son city, but also in Pai and Pang Mapha districts, as well as along sides of Highway 1095 –Mae Hong Son –Pang Mapha-Pai,” he added.


Strong winds hit Lampang

Trees collapsed and damaged houses and many houses found their roofs blown off in the strong storm that hit Lampang on March 3, 2011.

Thaweerat Pensalaphan

At midnight on March 3, a strong summer wind and rain storm hit villages in Tambon Wiangtan, Hangchat district, Lampang, resulting in damages to temples and villager’s homes.

Wat Doi Noi in Tanbon Wiangtan saw two antique wooden Naga heads on the temple fall off, no injuries were reported.

Phra Khru Khet , the abbot of Wat Ban Yang Ory said the ceiling of the temple collapsed in the heavy winds and Noi Chanpok, President of the Wiangtan Tambon Administrative Organization said more than 70 homes had suffered damage in the storm.


Zonta President wins WIN Award of Excellence

Zonta President and well known Chiang Mai resident, Mrs. Somboon Suprasert, seen here on the far right with Zonta members, was awarded the Women’s Information Network (WIN) Award of Excellence for her role as an outstanding leader on March 8, 2011. The Women’s Information Network awarded her this due to her performance at the highest level in her career and community and the help she offers other women to excel. The announcement said, “Great pride and pleasure surround our selection of WIN Award of Excellence recipients. They are the women our little girls dream about becoming; the women we want today's youth to emulate. They have stories to tell and lessons to teach. They are both pioneers in their fields and shining lights in our future. Award of Excellence recipients are women helping women, which lies at the very heart of The Women's Information Network.”


Summer storms may bring dangers of billboard collapse, Mayor warns

Chiang Mai Mayor Tussanai Buranupakorn inspected some of the giant billboards around town with administrators to ensure that they will be strong enough and not collapse during the strong storms of the upcoming summer season. The Mayor is concerned that more than 300 billboards may be at risk of collapse and requested that anyone who sees one that may appear to pose a danger to phone 053-259-195 to report it. The Mayor visited Think Park and Mahidol Road near Central Airport Plaza as part of the inspection tour.


Mae Hong Son residents queue around the block to buy palm oil

Mae Hong Son residents formed long queues to buy government allocated palm oil.

Khajohn Boopath

Mae Hong Son residents formed a long queue to buy palm oil on March 1, 2011, provided by the Government. However, only 1,000 bottles of palm oil were allocated for the population of 250,000 people in this Northern Province this week. Vendors and government officials could get two bottles per person but everyone else was limited to a single bottle.

The sale of palm oil at the Mae Hong Son City Hall and Provincial Commerce Office caused heavy traffic on the road to City Hall, police reported.

 

Drug smugglers nabbed in Lampang

A resident of Chaiya in Surat Thani was arrested in Lampang smuggling drugs to the South.

Thaweerat Pensalaphan and Saksit Meesubkwang

In two separate incidents in Lampang 242,000 yabaa pills were seized by police, Utharn Chawamethee, Deputy Governor of Lampang and Pol Maj Gen Arthakitch Kornthong , the Commander of Lampang Provincial Police announced on March 1.

The first case involved a Tai Yai woman from Chiang Dao who was caught with 40,000 pills on her way to deliver to a drug dealer in Rangsit, Pathum Thani at a police checkpoint near Wat Chaisriphum in Sobprap, Lampang. She was hired to deliver the pills for 10,000 baht.

The Ngao police arrested a man from Chaiya in Surat Thani, with over 682,000 baht in cash and more than 200,000 yabaa pills hidden in his pickup truck. The police said he was picking up the drugs in the North to deliver them to the Southern provinces.


Ranger firefight in Mae Ai yields one dead

Chiang Mai Mail online reporters

Military rangers and local police on border patrol in Mae Ai district, Chiang Mai clashed with drug trafficking gang members on March 2, resulting in the death of one of the traffickers.

The joint forces surrounded Ban Kaengtum village in Thaton, Mae Ai District where they found 4 men carrying backpacks who attempted to flee to Myanmar after encountering the patrol. The Thai authorities attempted to stop the men for a search but they opened fire on the Thai authorities.

After the fighting cleared they found one man dead, carrying a 9 mm weapon. Authorities believe the suspects to be members of the Red Wa Army.