Saturday, April 24, 2010

Another Saigon, Only Without Helos

An earlier evacuation of stranded citizens from a Southeast Asian country (1975)

The UK press reported today that 350 angry and stranded British tourists caused a near-riot at Bangkok's international airport, in a scene that resembled 'the last days of Saigon':

Hundreds of angry and frightened Britons left stranded in Thailand by the volcanic dust cloud today were battling for plane seats out of the country's capital.

Many were left to sleep on cardboard mats in Bangkok airport after their money ran out.

Some were also without a meal or roof over their heads because non-European airlines - including Thailand's main air carrier - declined to offer customers hotel accommodation which must be offered by air carriers under EU regulations.

The problems in Thailand have been exacerbated by a violent attempted coup being mounted on the streets of the capital by 'Red Shirts', supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, which have left more than 20 dead.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has urged people to avoid Bangkok except for essential travel and elevated it to the No 1 destination from which to repatriate British tourists.

British consular officers are doing what they can to help, and at least one of the stranded tourists is appreciative.

'I would surely like to get my own back on these airline people. But the Embassy people here have been absolutely great. They are trying to put pressure on the airlines to get us out.

By the way, from what I can learn about the British embassy in Bangkok it is a nice place with 7,000 square meters of "new residential accommodation, recreational facilities and staff amenities," but it does not have a helipad.

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