Thursday, 13 August 2009

New crackdown on Samui drug users...

As part of a new and welcome initiative to stamp-out drug use on the island, Koh Samui District Chief Sakchai Jorphalit has urged hotels and resorts to play their part by making sure their guests understand that drug using tourists are not welcome on the island, and has suggested that notices are posted in hotels' public areas.

Creating awareness of the crack-down comes as a small part of a much wider campaign to eliminate drug distribution and use on the island. Recently Mr. Sakchai launched the Post Box 188 project, an address that encourages anyone to anonymously grass (sorry) with any information that could be useful to the campaign and is a component of the newly launched 'Operation Center to Fight against Drug', which Sakchai manages. The center will initiate other projects and activities to encourage island residents and tourists to help root out the drug problem.

“Our Operation Center to Fight against Drug has just established the Post Box 188 so that residents and tourists on Koh Samui can send us letters, news, reports, suggestions, proposals related to drug usage on Koh Samui. It is another channel for us to receive information directly from people about sources of narcotic drugs,” Sakchai said. He went on to say "People can give information about drug users, drug dealers, drug makers and areas where drug trading takes place or where people use drugs, without revealing their identities".

He cited a police report claiming that as high as 80 per cent of drug users on the island are foreign tourists. This explains, he said, why the drug business on Samui remains lucrative.

In an unrelated report by the Samui Express newspaper, a couple were arrested recently at a vehicle checkpoint for transporting illegal drugs. Somkiat Noentaisong, 32, of Chumphon, threw a white box out the window of the van he was driving as he approached the police checkpoint near the Bangkok-Samui Hospital. The police, who became suspicious, stopped the van and retrieved the white box, which yielded 370 tablets of amphetamine (Yaba) and an undetermined amount of marijuana.

The police's suspicions may have been alerted by the fact that Somkiat’s van had flashing lights and a siren on the roof and was sporting a police logo. Police took Somkiat and his wife, 22-year-old Rattanakorn Kaewinthi into custody.

At the police station the pair confessed they had been hired to take the illegal drugs from Bangkok to Samui.

Police said that for making their van look like a police vehicle, the couple face five months in jail and/or a fine of Bt10,000, but it was not reported if they faced a penalty for ferrying the drugs.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Pilot killed as flight crashes on landing at Samui airport...

BBC News website user, Japhy G, took this photo from the north end of the runway at Koh Samui airport

The pilot of a Bangkok Airways flight has been killed and seven passengers injured as it skidded off the runway while landing at Koh Samui.

The Bangkok Airways flight, carrying 72 people, hit an old and unmanned control tower amid reports of heavy rain.

The President of Bangkok Airways, held a press conference at 17h00 today concerning the accident of the airline’s flight PG 266 from Krabi which skidding off the runway and collided with an out of service, unmanned control tower during the flight’s attempted landing at Samui Airport.

The aircraft, an ATR-72 500 series, with 70 seats, carried 68 passengers, two pilots and two flight attendants. Officials said the injured included the co-pilot, two Britons, an Italian and a Swiss national. The four tourists all suffered broken legs, while the co-pilot also had leg injuries, said the managing director of Bangkok Airways, Puttipong Prasartthong-Osoth. He said the other foreign passengers included nationals of Spain, France and Germany.

All passengers have been evacuated from the site with four seriously injured passengers sent to the Bangkok Samui Hospital, and two others with minor injuries delivered to the Thai Inter Hospital. The 62 other passengers have been transferred to hotels. Two flight attendants and a pilot were reportedly safe, while the other pilot died in the collision with the control tower.
An investigation team from the Department of Aviation has been despatched to the accident site at Samui Airport.

Several were treated for minor bruises or shock - including two other Britons - and were resting at local hotels before being transferred to Bangkok, officials said.

Samui Airport was temporarily shut down following the accident. The aircraft is to be removed on Wednesday morning, the runway inspected and cleared before the airport reopens to air traffic at 13hoo on Wednesday, 5th August.
We offer our condolences to the family of the dead pilot and our sympathy to the injured, also to the visitors whose holiday has been affected so traumatically.
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