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Update July 2018

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Update by Natrakorn Paewsoongnern
Thailand News

Update July 18, 2018

Floods reported across northeast due to low pressure front


Nakhon Panom - Floods have hit seven provinces of the northeastern region of Thailand due to the influence of a low pressure front sweeping over the country from the South China Sea.

In Nakhon Panom, water is being pumped into the Mekong River and tree branches are being cut so that they do not impact power lines. Locals have been urged to follow reports closely so that they are prepared for any emergency situations.

Royal Irrigation Department (RID) Director-General, Thongplew Kongchan, has ordered all of his department’s offices in the northeast to step up drainage into the Mekong. He has also set urgent plans to slow waters from the Chi River entering into Roi Et province and to increase drainage into the Mul River using pumps. The work is in response to more rains expected in Roi Et, Nakhon Panom, Mahasarakam, Kalasin and Yasothon.

Most flooding so far has been in low lying areas and is expected to subside in two to three days if rains let up.

Religious and spiritual ceremonies held at Tham Luang Cave


Chiang Rai - A religious and spiritual ceremony has been held at Tham Luang Cave to appease its spirits after authorities were able to successfully rescue 13 members of Moo Pa Academy youth football team from its inner caverns.

A Brahmin Lanna ceremony took place at 8:09 a.m. Monday before Buddhist monks performed a blessing at 9:09 a.m. and prayers began at 10:09 a.m. One of the prayers was in dedication to former Thai Navy Seal Saman Kunan, who lost his life during the rescue operation.

Former head of the Tham Luang Cave rescue mission and now Governor of Phayao province Narongsak Osot-thanakorn, alongside current Governor of Chiang Rai Prajon Prachsakul, chaired the proceedings with many Chiang Rai locals and the faithful from nearby provinces in attendance.

In the afternoon, a Lanna cleansing ritual was held ahead of a Lanna cave closing ceremony. Both are believed to remove any ill-intentioned spirits from the area and protect others from losing their way in the cave.

FDA inspects pesticides in vegetables for consumers’ safety



Bangkok - According to a warning from the Pesticide Alert Network (Thai-Pan) on excessive levels of pesticide in vegetables sold in markets, Secretary General of FDA, Dr. Wanchai Sattayawuthipong said Tuesday that the FDA has continuously inspected and monitored markets on this issue. The FDA has also strengthened preventative measures by launching two regulations to control the level of pesticides and the process of preserving fruit and vegetables.

The FDA is working with provincial public health offices around Thailand to ensure the safety of consumers in the consumption of fruit and vegetables by sending samples to be examined for the pesticides. The test results from June 2018 show that 86.5 percent of samples passed the standard while 13.5 percent of the samples failed.

Having detected the sale of some contaminated fruit and vegetables, the FDA will proceed with legal action and report the surveillance results to the related department such as the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.

DPM Wissanu insists Cabinet retreat bears no hidden political agenda

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam.


Bangkok - A deputy prime minister in charge of legal affairs continues denying claims that the upcoming mobile Cabinet meetings in Thailand’s northeastern region carry some hidden political agenda.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said on Monday that mobile Cabinet meetings have long been a common aspect of all governments to allow ministries to get first hand information about the concerns of people in all provinces, particularly during the past 20 years.

DPM Wissanu said that the current government too has plans to visit every province in the country while in office.

He added that Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha has already instructed the Office of the National Economic and Social Development Board to compile data from all mobile meetings to help with the decision-making process for approval of each proposed project.

As for the upcoming meeting in Ubon Ratchathani province, Wissanu said that the retreat has long been scheduled and is not a plan that was just made lately.

Regarding invitations to local politicians to join the mobile meeting, the DPM said that such a program is intended to collect information about local problems, which the government is determined to hear from all related groups during its provincial trips.

Update July 17, 2018

PM commends recovery effort after Phuket boat accident


Bangkok - Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha has thanked all related parties for the recovery of the final body in the Phuket boat accident, confirming that all victims or their families are being fully compensated.

The PM thanked Thai and Chinese officials for their joint effort to recover the final body that was trapped under the capsized boat. He confirmed that the government provided support to all aspects of the operation, such as sending personnel and equipment to assist recovery of the victims, conducting religious rites for the deceased, and returning their bodies to their home country.

Of the 46 bodies that have been identified, Thailand conducted religious rites for 39 and has returned seven to China. Two insurance companies will provide 1.1 million baht each to the families of the deceased. Thailand’s disaster relief fund for foreign tourists will contribute an additional one million baht. Those who were injured will receive up to 515,000 baht from the insurance companies and up to 500,000 baht from the disaster fund.

Gen Prayut has also instructed related parties to make adjustments, such as improving inspection measures and safety standards, to prevent similar accidents from occurring in the future and to boost confidence among tourists.

Police conclude online World Cup gambling operation


Bangkok – Thai police have concluded their World Cup gambling suppression, after the world's most popular sporting event came to an end on July 15.

Deputy Tourist Police Chief, Pol Maj-Gen Surachet Hakpal, said at a press briefing that the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) of the Royal Thai Police, the Tourist Police, Provincial Police Regions 7, 8 and 9 jointly conducted an anti-online gambling operation during the World Cup tournament.

He said a special task force was able to arrest the operators of 26 gambling websites and pressed charges against 65 individuals for organizing online gambling activities or persuading others to engage in online gambling.

The Thai police have also successfully blocked more than 400 gambling sites registered abroad and confiscated more than 73.2 million baht worth of assets linked to the crime, including the contents of 34 bank accounts.

In Chiang Rai alone, police said 50 million baht of gambling cash was reported, adding that 184 satellite dishes and 32 broadcast antennas used for illegal activities have been seized.

Chiang Rai artists create Tham Luang rescue mission artwork


Chiang Rai - Some 200 local artists are working to complete a painting telling the story of the operation to rescue 12 boys and their football coach trapped in Tham Luang cave in Mae Sai district, Chiang Rai province. The painting will be exhibited at Tham Luang Cave Museum.

The painting, which is now 90 percent complete, will show all people involved in the operation, from key officials to volunteers who helped with transportation and cleaning. The artwork will first be displayed at Art Bridge Chiang Rai, and will later be showcased at Tham Luang Cave.

The President of Art Bridge Chiang Rai, Suwit Jaipom, said the artists will also be building a monument for lieutenant commander Saman Gunan, the former Navy Seal officer who died during the rescue operation. The three-meter heigh monument, made with brass by a fine arts company in Ayutthaya province, will also be placed in front of the museum building, which will be constructed using timber designed by local artist Somluck Pantiboon.

The construction of the museum building is expected to take about four months. The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation has already given its approval for the construction plan.

Thai students take gold at 59th Mathematical Olympiad


Bangkok - The Institute for the Promotion of Teaching Science and Technology (IPST) warmly welcomed back students who represented the kingdom at the 59th International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) in Romania after they landed at Suvarnabhumi Airport on Sunday.

The Ministry of Education assembled and sponsored the Thai team that competed in the international event, which this year brought together 107 nations. The Thai team was able to win three gold medals and three silver medals, ranking fifth in the world by the end of the competition.

The team comprised Papon Lapet of Mahidol Wittayanusorn School, Yolrada Yongpisanpop of Triam Udom Suksa School and Siwakorn Fuangkawinsombut of Triam Udom Suksa School, who all won gold, Jirayus Jinapong of Kamnoetvidya Science Academy, Chatchanun Suriya-amaranont of Triam Udom Suksa School and Thana Somsiriwattana of Suankularb Wittayalai School, who all won silver.

Yolrada was also top ranked out of the competition’s 60 female mathematics Olympians.

Update July 16, 2018

PM calls for higher safety standards on tourist boats


Bangkok - Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha has directed tourism related agencies to raise the level of safety of tour boat services, following the boat tragedy that took the lives of 47 people in Phuket this month.

While offering thanks to the rescue and search party, the Thai premier asked law enforcement agencies to lay charges against the company that owns “Phoenix,” a boat that was overturned in rough seas on July 5. There were a total of 89 tourists on board Phoenix, 42 of them were rescued but 47 died in the disaster.

Gen Prayut then asked responsible agencies to speed up compensation payments to the injured and inspect tour boats, their safety measures and equipment on a consistent basis to prevent future tragedies.

Phayao Governor delivers funeral eulogy for military diver Saman Kunan

Governor of Phayao, Narongsak Osotthanakorn.


Roi Et - The Governor of Phayao delivered a funeral eulogy Saturday for the military diver who lost his life during the weeks-long operation to rescue 13 young footballers and their coach from Tham Luang cave in Chiang Rai province.

Narongsak Osotthanakorn, the head of the cave rescue operation and now governor of Phayao, represented all the rescued footballers and their coach in reading a eulogy written for former navy SEAL diver Saman Gunan, at his funeral held at Wat Ban Nong Khu temple in Roi Et province.

“It is like we are reborn and we are getting healthier by the day as a miracle has made it possible for us to return to our families again. In fact, this might never have happened without the dedication and sacrifices that countless people have made for us,” read Narongsak.

“One of the most important persons in this mission was ‘Pii-Ja Sam’ — an important force in the diving team, who helped us all they could. ‘Pii-Ja Sam’ has left us and will never return. But, what he has done for us and our families will remain in our hearts for eternity,” continued Narongsak on behalf of the rescued boys, adding “We are immensely grateful for your dedication, sacrifice and determination to help us. And, may we wish that you rest forever in peace up there in heaven.”

The funeral of Saman Gunan was overseen by Privy Counsellor and former Prime Minister Gen. Surayud Chulanont and attended by senior officials and the people of Roi Et and other provinces, amidst a large crowd of members of the media.

Operation to retrieve Phuket boat accident victim continues


Phuket - The operation to retrieve the body of the last victim in a fatal boat accident in Phuket continued throughout the weekend.

The rescue team were not been able to succeed in their effort to bring to the surface the body of the last victim of the boat accident, despite a well-planned operation that involved separate teams tasked with various responsibilities to make it possible.

Royal Thai Navy divers tried to install a sand removal mechanism on the floor of the sea, where the victim’s body was spotted, but they encountered a series of technical difficulties, until foreign divers came to help with additional equipment.

During the operation, China’s Guangzhou Salvage rescue team brought in a surface tool, to help dig the body out of the sea bed but all collaborative efforts still failed to achieve the goal.

The body retrieval operation was then called off temporarily when it was too dark for the teams to continue their efforts.

Govt agencies run DNA tests on undocumented Thais in Malaysia


Yala - The Southern Border Provinces Administration Centre (SBPAC) and different agencies have come together to carry out DNA testing on undocumented Thai people in Malaysia.

Deputy Secretary-General of the SBPAC, Rear Admiral Somkiat Pholprayoon said DNA testing of Thais living in the northern border areas of Malaysia was part of a program aimed at ensuring their welfare.

Rear Admiral Somkiat disclosed HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn had voiced her concern about the difficulties of these people, such as their inability to obtain government-issued documents and malnourishment in children, while on a visit to Yala province in 2016.

Relevant agencies, including the Department of Provincial Administration and Prince of Songkhla University’s Faculty of Medicine co-organized the DNA testing at the Royal Thai Consulate General in Kota Baru, the capital of Kelantan State.

Update July 14-15, 2018

Deputy PM orders suppression of mosquitos after 37 people die of dengue fever


Nonthaburi – Deputy Prime Minister Chatchai Sarikulya says the number of people infected with dengue fever in 2018 is on the rise, with 28,732 patients reportedly suffering from the disease since the start of the year and 37 patients having already died.

Minister Chatchai added that the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) cannot control every area in Thailand, hence the need for every department to undertake measure to combat the disease during the rainy season in target areas, including schools, hotels, companies, hospitals, and houses.

The Department of Disease Control (DDC) has reported that most of the dengue fever patients are children aged around 5- 14 years, but the deceased patients were mostly adults aged over 35 years old, having a 2-5 times higher mortality rate than children. The result of the mosquito larvae search also shows that there is a larger quantity of mosquito larvae in the communities and places where people usually gather. Therefore, there is a risk that dengue fever will continue spreading into a broader area.

The Deputy PM and MOPH also suggest people prevent this disease by relying on three steps including keeping their houses clean, keeping water containers covered, and regular clearing away of trash in bins or rubbish containers.

People should immediately see the doctor if they are feeling the symptoms for more than 2-3 days including high fever, muscle pain, red eyes, and skin rash. Further information is available via the DDC hotline 1422.

British diver returns home after football team rescue

British diver John Volanthen smiles for the camera at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok.


Bangkok - The British diver, John Volanthen, who first located the 12 boys and their coach missing inside a Thai cave complex, has arrived home in England to a warm welcome at Heathrow International Airport.

Volanthen, a member of the British Cave Rescue Council (BCRC), was one of the two British divers who found the Thai boys and their coach. He said during an interview with a group of reporters at the airport that he was pleased to hear that all of them had been brought out of the cave safely this week, after being trapped for 18 days.

He added that he and Jason Mallinson, the other diver, were not heroes and that the rescue would not have been possible without the contributions of all divers, soldiers, civilians and the Royal Thai Navy. Volanthen also praised former Thai navy seal Saman Kunan, who died during the mission, while expressing his condolences to his family.

Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull thanked cave diver and anesthetist Dr. Richard Harris for his participation in the rescue adding that Australian people were proud of him. Dr. Harris said earlier that it was one of the greatest opportunities to represent the Australian Federal Police in the historic rescue.

Phuket expedites help for victims of tour boat tragedy

Phuket Governor Noraphat Plodthong.


Phuket - Phuket is urgently assisting the victims of the tour boat sinking in the province last week, while preparing to impose measures to restore foreign tourists' confidence.

Phuket Governor Noraphat Plodthong said Permanent Secretary for Tourism and Sports, Phongphanu Sawetrun had traveled to the province to extend his condolences on the loss of life in the boat tragedy and expedite the rehabilitation for the casualties.

The governor said Thailand needs to restore confidence quickly since Chinese tourists are an important market for Thai tourism. Each year, 10 million Chinese tourists visit Thailand and spend more than 500 billion baht. Around three million of them travel to Phuket and spend around 150 billion baht.

Around 10% - 15% of Chinese tourists have cancelled their advance bookings in Phuket after the boat catastrophe. The governor however expressed his confidence that Thailand's immediate tourism stimulating measures will help restore confidence rapidly.

Around 64 million baht will be spent on care and compensation for the affected people. A total of 2.1 million baht from both the government and private sector will be given to a family representative of each of the dead passengers. 

Bangkok takes legal action against vehicles traveling on walkways


Bangkok - The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has set up 115 checkpoints to prevent illegal car parking, and motorcyclists driving on walkways.

A checkpoint in front of Benjasiri Park is among 115 recently introduced in Bangkok, to keep vehicles from using the footpaths. The first batch of checkpoints has been set up in busy areas of Bangkok including Huai Kwang, Jatuchak and Klong Toey districts.

Offenders will pay a maximum fine of 5,000 baht. More checkpoints will later be set up in other districts of Bangkok.

Update July 13, 2018

Heroic welcome for Thai Navy SEAL team after Tham Luang success


Chonburi - Many people welcomed a group of Thai Navy SEAL members as they returned to their base in Chonburi province, following their successful operation to rescue the 12 young football players and their coach who were trapped in Tham Luang cave in the northern province of Chiang Rai.

The Royal Thai Fleet commander, Adm. Rangsarit Sattayanukul, along with many public members, greeted the Navy SEALs at U-Tapao International Airport on Thursday.

A total of 159 navy officials, including the Thai Navy SEAL commander, RAdm. Arpakorn Yookongkaew, Commander of the Royal Thai Navy SE, joined the search and rescue operation that captured the imagination of the world.

Many people waiting for their return shouted "Hooyah" as a token of their appreciation to their remarkable service and sacrifice.

A mother of one of the SEAL members who participated in this operation, Sumalee Maksri, said she was delighted that her son successfully completed his mission, adding that she previously felt worried because he did not give any details of his assignment.

The Thai Navy SEAL commander said the Royal Thai Navy is always prepared to respond to disasters in the country, stressing his belief in the capabilities of all officials, and thanked for the dedication from all personnel and support from the general public.

Feathered forecast, Thai parrot predicts 2018 World Cup winners

Warapun Jaikusol

JR, a macaw parrot at Khao Kheaw Open Zoo has again stunned visitors and tourists with his ability to pick football championship winners, this time making a prediction for the World Cup 2018 final match between Croatia and France.

JR picked the French flag with his beak after waddling around both nations’ banners for some time. JR has been part of fun and excitement in many football tournaments, both World Cup and Euro Championships, and has correctly guessed the outcome of final matches at least 5 times in the past.

Thai Post Office company deputy managing director, Manop Sornviboonsak said similar events have been regularly held at the zoo to form a love of animals and also encourage people to buy postcards and send in their one national team answer for a chance to win many prizes contributed by national newspaper company Thairath.

The World Cup final match is set to kick off on Sunday, July 15 at 10pm (Thai time).

Deep floods in Bueng Kan following night of heavy rain


Bueng Kan - Heavy rains through Wednesday night in Bueng Kan province resulted in intermittent flooding with waters up to 80 centimeters in depth.

A monsoon front passing over Thailand's north, Lao PDR and Vietnam that collided with a long pressure front in the same area resulted in heavy rains across all eight districts of Bueng Kan, especially in its municipal area where water gathered in ditches and along roads.

Staff members at Bueng Kan Hospital and Bueng Kan School were contending with water between 50 and 80 centimeters deep and one hospital vehicle was damaged by flood waters.

Peace and Order Maintaining Command soldiers in the province, volunteers and hospital staff were using flat bottom boats and large vehicles to shuttle patients, staff and even family members between the hospital, school and other areas.

Welfare card program opens new round of applications


Bangkok - The national welfare card program will open another round of applications for people with disabilities, the elderly, bedridden patients, and those who were unable to register in last year’s round.

Eleven agencies within the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of the Interior, the Bank of Thailand, Department for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, Social Security Office, and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration have signed an agreement to facilitate registrations and log information into an electronic database by the end of this month.

Deputy Permanent Secretary of Finance Narin Kalayanamit revealed Thursday that the program has so far registered an additional 1.1 million people. Around 380,000 of the applications are from people with disabilities, the elderly, and bedridden citizens. The remaining 600,000 are those who had missed the previous round. The number of registrations by the end of the month is expected to reach 1.5 million. Afterwards, the information gathered will be sent to all relevant agencies for vetting, and welfare cards will be handed out to approved applicants by the end of the year.

Narin revealed that from October 2017 to June this year, cardholders have spent over 31 million baht. The program will also continue its policy of occupational training by asking applicants upon registration about the skills they wish to learn.

Update July 12, 2018

With V-for-Victory sign, rescued boys celebrate freedom

In this image made from video, three of the 12 boys are seen recovering in their hospital beds after being rescued along with their coach from a flooded cave in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, Wednesday, July 11. (Thailand Government Spokesman Bureau via AP)

Stephen Wright and Kaweewit Kaewjinda

Mae Sai (AP) — As ecstatic relatives watched and waved from behind a glass barrier, the 12 boys and their soccer coach rescued from deep within a flooded cave made the V-for-Victory sign Wednesday from their beds in a hospital isolation ward where they are recovering from the 18-day ordeal.

An American involved in the operation described the perilous zero-visibility dives that brought the boys out safely as a "once in a lifetime rescue."

Derek Anderson, a 32-year-old rescue specialist with the U.S. Air Force based in Okinawa, Japan, said that at times during the risky rescue, the boys had to be put into harnesses and high-lined across the rocky caverns. At other times, they endured dives lasting up to half an hour in the pitch-black waters.

"The world just needs to know that what was accomplished was a once in a lifetime rescue," Anderson told The Associated Press in an interview on Wednesday. "We were extremely fortunate that the outcome was the way it was. It's important to realize how complex and how many pieces of this puzzle had to come together."

He said the boys, ranging in age from 11 to 16, were "incredibly resilient."

"What was really important was the coach and the boys all came together and discussed staying strong, having the will to live, having the will to survive," Anderson said.

That gutsy determination was on display Wednesday in a video taken from the hospital isolation ward. The boys, their faces covered by green surgical masks, flashed the V-for-Victory sign as they sat up in bed and chatted with their nurses, at times responding with the customary Thai sign of respect — hands pressed together while bowing the head. The youngest boy, 11, appeared to be asleep under a crisp white sheet.

"Don't need to worry about their physical health and even more so for their mental health," said Chaiwetch Thanapaisal, director of Chiang Rai Prachanukroh Hospital.

"Everyone is strong in mind and heart," he said at a news conference of officials involved in the rescue.

The four boys and 25-year-old soccer coach who were brought out Tuesday on the final day of the three-day rescue effort have recovered more quickly than the boys rescued on Sunday and Monday, Chaiwetch said.

Even so, all need to be monitored in the hospital for a week and then rest at home for another 30 days, he said. Three have slight lung infections.

Another video released on Facebook by the Thai Navy SEALs, who were central to the rescue, showed one of the boys being carried through part of the muddy cave on a stretcher covered by an emergency thermal blanket.

The SEALs commander, Rear Adm. Apakorn Youkongkae, said the soccer coach, Ekkapol Chantawong, determined the order the boys from the Wild Boars soccer team should be rescued in. "The coach was the one to choose," he said.

Chiang Rai province acting Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn, who oversaw the rescue operation, said the boys should not be blamed for their near tragedy. He lauded the cooperation between Thai and international rescuers.

"The situation went beyond just being a rescue mission and became a symbol of unity among mankind," he said. "Everyone worked together without discrimination of race or religion as the ultimate goal was to save the youth football team."

Officials plan an interactive museum at the Tham Luang cave based on the historic rescue mission that will feature items such as clothing that key rescuers wore during the operation, Narongsak said.

Thongchai Lertwilairatanapong, a public health inspector, said the boys lost an average of 2 kilograms while they were trapped. Before their discovery, they survived by drinking water dripping into their cramped refuge.

"To not receive food, we can still survive for many months, but what's necessary is water, which the cave has, and around this time there's a lot in the cave, and they chose clean water to drink," he said.

PM thanks foreign rescuers for helping save trapped boys and their coach


Bangkok - The Thai government is sending out communications to officially thank the leaders of the countries which sent their divers to join in the rescue operation at the Tham Luang cave complex in Chiang Rai. Certificates of gratitude will also be given to all of the divers.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said that the successful rescue at Tham Luang will set an example for other rescue operations in the future.

Gen.Prayut also thanked Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, for offering his help to the trapped boy footballers and their coach. He said he talked to Musk during his trip to Chiang Rai and thanked him for bringing his rescue equipment to Thailand for future use.

Meanwhile, a diver of the international rescue team has revealed he was amazed at the strength of the young footballers who were trapped in the cave.

Danish diving instructor Ivan Karadzic said in an interview with the BBC that the boys were “being forced to do something that no kid had ever done before”, adding that it was not in any way normal for children as young as 11 years old to go cave diving. Moreover, he noted the extremely dangerous conditions the boys had to dive in, with zero visibility and regular equipment malfunctions.

Karadzic lauded the boys as incredibly strong individuals, given the fact that they were trapped inside the cave and could not be with their loved ones for over two weeks.

Cabinet OKs bill on taxation of property near infrastructure projects

Advisor to the Prime Minister’s Office, Natporn Jatusripitak.

Bangkok - Following this week’s Cabinet meeting, Advisor to the Prime Minister’s Office, Natporn Jatusripitak, revealed that the Cabinet has approved, in principle, a bill governing the collection of tax on land or condominium units, where appraisal prices are pushed up due to their proximity to transport infrastructure projects. The bill was proposed by the Ministry of Finance, with an aim to create fairness in the tax system.

Individuals and juristic persons to be subject to the additional tax are those who possess land or condominium units with a commercial value of more than 50 million baht. The property is considered taxable if located within a five-kilometer radius of transport infrastructure projects, which include high-speed railway, double-track railway, electric railway, highways, airports and seaports.

The tax will be collected only once by the Department of Lands or the Local Administrative Organization at a maximum rate of 5 percent and will be contributed to the state’s coffers for national development. However, this tax bill targets only property used for commercial purposes and will not apply to residences or farmland.

TAT launches tourism promotion film in 8K resolution


Bangkok - The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has unveiled a tourism promotion film co-produced with Sharp and featuring the beauties of Thailand in 8K resolution.

The video was produced using Sharp's imaging and display equipment to promote Thailand's tourism and Sharp's AQUOS 8K Series television capable of displaying videos in 8K resolution, which has 16 time more pixels than traditional Full HD television format.

The producers have captured moments from festivals and attractions in various locations in Thailand, including the Songkran festival and historic destinations in Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Ang Thong, and Nong Khai.

This video is considered the first 8K video produced in ASEAN and is intended to inspire people to go out and experience the beauties of Thailand.

TAT and Sharp will continue to work together to produce the second 8K video in the concept series "Open to the new Shades." These videos will be screened on TAT's channels and on Sharp's displays, reaching a large audience in ASEAN and the wider Asian region.

Update July 11, 2018

'Everyone is safe' after daring rescue of 13 trapped in cave


In this undated photo released on Tuesday, July 10, the last four Thai Navy SEALs come out safely after completing the rescue mission inside a cave where 12 boys and their soccer coach had been trapped since June 23, in Mae Sai, northern Thailand. (Royal Thai Navy via AP)

Kaweewit Kaewjinda and Stephen Wright

Mae Sai — "Everyone is safe." With those three words posted on Facebook the daring rescue mission to extricate 12 boys and their soccer coach from the treacherous confines of a flooded cave in north Thailand was complete — a grueling 18-day ordeal that claimed the life of an experienced diver and riveted people worldwide.

Thailand's Navy SEALs, who were central to the rescue effort, celebrated the feat with a post Tuesday evening that read: "All the thirteen Wild Boars are now out of the cave," — a reference to the boys' soccer team. "We are not sure if this is a miracle, a science, or what."

Eight of the boys were rescued by a team of Thai and international divers on Sunday and Monday. On Tuesday, the final four boys and their coach were guided out of the cave. Their rescue was followed a few hours later by the safe return of a medic and three SEAL divers who had stayed for days with the boys in their cramped, dry refuge.

Cheers erupted from the dozens of volunteers and journalists awaiting news of whether the intricate and high-risk rescue mission had succeeded. Helicopters transporting the boys roared overhead. People on the street cheered and clapped when ambulances ferrying them on the last leg of their journey from the cave arrived at a hospital in Chiang Rai city.

Their joy and relief was echoed around the globe by the multitude of people who had followed the long ordeal.

Payap Maiming, who helped provide food and necessities to rescue workers and journalists, noted that fact.

"I'm happy for Thais all over the country," he said. "And actually just everyone in the world because every news channel has presented this story and this is what we have been waiting for."

"It's really a miracle," Payap said. "It's hope and faith that has brought us this success."

Amporn Sriwichai, an aunt of rescued coach Ekkapol Chantawong, was ecstatic. "If I see him, I just want to hug him and tell him that I missed him very much," she said.

The plight of the boys and their coach captivated much of the world — from the heart-sinking news that they were missing, to the first flickering video of the huddle of anxious yet smiling boys when they were found by a pair of British divers 10 days later. The group had entered the sprawling Tham Luang cave to go exploring after soccer practice on June 23, but monsoon rains soon filled the tight passageways, blocking their escape.

Each of the boys, ages 11 to 16 and with no diving experience, was guided out by a pair of divers in the three-day high-stakes operation. The route, in some places just a crawl space, had oxygen canisters positioned at regular intervals to refresh each team's air supply.

Highlighting the dangers, a former Thai Navy SEAL died Friday while replenishing the canisters.

"We did something nobody thought possible," Chiang Rai province acting Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn, leader of the rescue effort, said at a celebratory news conference.

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, speaking Tuesday before the final rescue was completed, said the boys were given an anti-anxiety medication to help with their perilous removal from the cave.

Asked at a news conference in Bangkok if the boys had been sedated, Prayuth said: "Who would chloroform them? If they're chloroformed, how could they come out? It's called anxiolytic, something to make them not excited, not stressed."

Prayuth said the Tham Luang cave would be closed for some time to make it safe for visitors.

The first eight boys brought out were doing well and were in good spirits at the hospital. They received a treat on Tuesday: bread with chocolate spread that they had requested.

Jedsada Chokdumrongsuk, permanent secretary at the Public Health Ministry, said the boys rescued Sunday were able to eat normal food by Tuesday, though they couldn't yet take the spicy dishes favored by many Thais.

Two of the boys possibly have a lung infection but all eight are generally "healthy and smiling," he said.

"The kids are footballers, so they have high immune systems," Jedsada told a news conference. "Everyone is in high spirits and is happy to get out. But we will have a psychiatrist evaluate them."

It could be at least a week before they can be released from the hospital, he said.

For now the boys were in isolation to try to keep them safe from infections by outsiders. But family members have seen at least some of the boys from behind a glass barrier.

It was clear doctors were taking a cautious approach. Jedsada said they were uncertain what type of infections the boys could face "because we have never experienced this kind of issue from a deep cave."

John Tangkitcharoenthawon, a local village chairman, was bursting with happiness over the successful rescue.

"If this place had a roof, the morale has gone straight through it," he said.

President Donald Trump joined those paying tribute to the rescuers.

"On behalf of the United States, congratulations to the Thai Navy SEALs and all on the successful rescue of the 12 boys and their coach from the treacherous cave in Thailand," he tweeted. "Such a beautiful moment — all freed, great job!"

One of soccer's most popular teams, Manchester United, expressed its relief over the rescue and invited the boys and their coach, as well as those who saved them, to come see the team play on their home ground this season.

A message posted on the English Premier League club's Twitter account said: "Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected. We would love to welcome the team from Wild Boars Football Club and their rescuers to Old Trafford this coming season."

The international soccer federation, FIFA, had already invited the boys to attend the World Cup final in Russia this Sunday. However, doctors treating the boys said it was too soon for them to make the trip.

Police investigations into boat sinkings are advancing

Thailand Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha consoles a relative of a victim of last week's boat accident, Monday, July 9, on Phuket island. (AP Photo)

Bangkok (AP) — Investigations into the sinking of two boats off Phuket last week are progressing, police said Tuesday. The sinking of one boat left 45 Chinese tourists dead and two missing.

The double-decker tour boat Phoenix capsized and sank late Thursday afternoon after it was hit by 5-meter waves in one of Thailand's worst tourism-related disasters in recent years.

Everyone from the smaller second boat, the Serenata, was rescued.

Officials say both boats went to sea despite warnings about the rough weather, and they have been pursuing legal action against those involved.

Police said the captain of the Phoenix had been charged with negligence causing death and the manager of the company operating the Serenata may be charged with negligence causing physical and mental damage to others. They said 50 people had been questioned in connection with the cases.

Officials said salvage operations could not be conducted Tuesday because of bad weather.

While the official death toll is 44, the actual toll is 45 because the body of one of three people listed as missing is trapped under the sunken Phoenix. The search and recovery operation will continue until all are accounted for, said officials.

Dr. Chirapan Taypan of the Phuket Provincial Public Health office said Tuesday morning that 37 of the 44 recovered bodies had been identified.

China's tourism ministry has warned people to be careful during water-based activities abroad. The notice carried in Chinese media Monday said travelers should closely monitor weather and sea conditions and obey all warnings. Without mentioning Thailand, the notice said some cruise companies exercised lax management and maintained inadequate safety measures.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha expressed his "profound sadness" in a letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping. In the letter released by the foreign ministry Monday, Prayuth said a full investigation is underway to find the cause of the tragedy and assured Xi that his government is determined to ensure such incidents would not recur.

31 companies express interest in EEC airport rail link


Bangkok - A number of Thai and foreign companies have expressed interest in the contract to build a high-speed railway connecting Don Mueang, Suvarnabhumi, and U Tapao airports.

The sale of bidding documents for the contract to connect the three airports concluded July 9 after a three-week open period. The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) reported that 31 entities purchased the bidding documents. The Thai companies include BTS Group, Charoen Pokphand Group, Italian-Thai Development, Sino-Thai Engineering & Construction, and CH Karnchang. Foreign firms include those from Japan, China, Italy, France, and Malaysia.

On July 23, the SRT is scheduled to meet with the bidders to discuss the details of the contract. The bidders will also be taken to inspect the railway construction sites. From July 10 to October 9, they will have the opportunity to voice any opinions or suggestions and pose questions regarding the bidding documents as well as study the details of the contract.

Regarding other developments in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), the Ministry of Labor has instructed the Office of the Public Sector Development Commission to draft a plan for skilled labor development in line with the needs of the EEC. The plan must prepare the region’s workforce for the digital transition of target industries. Previous surveys of the three EEC provinces, Chonburi, Rayong, and Chachoengsao, have concluded that the region needs another 29,000 skilled workers.

TAT: Tham Luang cave may be next tourist attraction


Bangkok - The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) plans to promote Tham Luang cave in Chiang Rai province as a key attraction, now that all the 12 boys and their football coach have been brought out of the cave to safety.

The Tourism and Sports Minister, Weerasak Kowsurat, said the TAT will work with the private sector and local authorities to promote the cave and other attractive venues nearby, as the tourism sector anticipates that the area will attract many more tourists in the future.

He said the rescue operation of the 13 survivors has become of interest for both local and foreign travelers.

He went on to say that people may want more travel and activity information before visiting the site, and the TAT is ready to work out a route to the cave and other destinations in Chiang Rai.



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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

Floods reported across northeast due to low pressure front

Religious and spiritual ceremonies held at Tham Luang Cave

FDA inspects pesticides in vegetables for consumers’ safety

DPM Wissanu insists Cabinet retreat bears no hidden political agenda

PM commends recovery effort after Phuket boat accident

Police conclude online World Cup gambling operation

Chiang Rai artists create Tham Luang rescue mission artwork

Thai students take gold at 59th Mathematical Olympiad

PM calls for higher safety standards on tourist boats

Phayao Governor delivers funeral eulogy for military diver Saman Kunan

Operation to retrieve Phuket boat accident victim continues

Govt agencies run DNA tests on undocumented Thais in Malaysia

Deputy PM orders suppression of mosquitos after 37 people die of dengue fever

British diver returns home after football team rescue

Phuket expedites help for victims of tour boat tragedy

Bangkok takes legal action against vehicles traveling on walkways

Heroic welcome for Thai Navy SEAL team after Tham Luang success

Feathered forecast, Thai parrot predicts 2018 World Cup winners

Deep floods in Bueng Kan following night of heavy rain

Welfare card program opens new round of applications

With V-for-Victory sign, rescued boys celebrate freedom

PM thanks foreign rescuers for helping save trapped boys and their coach

Cabinet OKs bill on taxation of property near infrastructure projects

TAT launches tourism promotion film in 8K resolution

'Everyone is safe' after daring rescue of 13 trapped in cave

Police investigations into boat sinkings are advancing

31 companies express interest in EEC airport rail link

TAT: Tham Luang cave may be next tourist attraction



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