65 Indonesians Finally Left Bangkok

VIVAnews – Around 65 Indonesian citizens who have been stranded in Thailand for days finally managed to leave the country’s capital, Bangkok, on Sunday, 30 November 2008, via Singapore Airlines.

Such is told by Indonesian Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Teuku Faizasyah to VIVAnews, this morning, Dec. 1

The aircraft took off from U-Tapao military airport, about 1.5 hours away from Bangkok, because Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang International Airports are still closed. Anti-government supporters of People Aliance for Democracy (PAD) are still blocking the two airports.

On that same day, Sunday, around 20 Indonesian citizens returned to Indonesia using Thai Airways. Previously, on Saturday, 29 November, one Indonesian citizen had returned to Indonesia using Singapore Airlines.

Meanwhile, that Saturday, dozens of other Indonesians had taken overland routes to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. "They were in a tour group. Therefore the Indonesian representatives may coordinate with the travel bureau that organizes them," said Faizasyah. "They are expected to have arrived in Kuala Lumpur by now," Faizasyah added.

Faizasyah said that the Department of Foreign Affairs and other related parties are coordinating with Garuda Indonesia Airlines. "In a couple of days, hopefully the number of Indonesians stranded in Bangkok would decrease," he said.

"There are indeed many things that have to be settled and we [the Indonesian government] can't do everything alone. Therefore, we continue to coordinate with the Thai government," he said.

Other countries are also trying to repatriate their citizens who are also still stranded in Bangkok. Australia's Foreign Minister Stephen Smith stated that the Australian government was becoming increasingly frustrated by Thai authorities' inability to help evacuate tourists caught up in the demonstrations which have paralyzed air traffic. Australia deemed the Thailand government unable to protect foreigners trapped in the demonstrations in Bangkok.

"Some [Ausralians] are becoming increasingly distressed, and understandably so. We've been working very hard to put pressure on Thai airlines and on Thai tourism authorities to try and get some Thai airline flights out," said Smith as quoted from The Nation newspaper, Dec 1.

Smith had also urged Thai airlines and tourism authorities to provide extra flights out and accommodation for the hundreds of unlucky Australian visitors. Australian Qantas Airways will also provide extra flights. However, this depends on which airports would be available in Thailand.