Day 8 — struggling to recover

The Danish police yesterday followed the Finnish example and made the list of missing publicly available in the hope that it might result in more information about the whereabouts of the persons on the list. The pole adds, that list is not the full list but contains only names of the persons whose identy the police is completely certain of.
     Click here to read the list as of 2. january 14.50 Danish time:

Swedish police was as of late Sunday still looking for 2900 Swedes unaccounted for. Meanwhile about 14.000 Swedish persons had so far arrived Sweden.
     The Swedish emergency team has constantly been increased and numbers now some 80 Swedish personnel, the Swedish government informs.

Scandinavian Society Siam and Danish-Thai Chamber of Commerce today reacted strongly to the travel warnings issued yesterday by both the Danish and the Swedish foreign ministries. The Norwegian foreign ministry has maintained its long standing warning to excercise caution if travelling in Thailand’s deep south.
     This is a punch under the belt which Thailand could have been without,” says Gregers Moller, chairman of Scandinavian Society Siam.
     “I fail to understand why this warning has been issued,” says Tom Sorensen, President of Danish Thai Chamber of Commerce.
     ”Cancelling a planned vacation to Thailand at this point will only hurt Thailand doubble,” says Tom Sorensen.
     The travel advice on the websites of the Swedish and Danish ministries’ websites are similar in their wording.
     The Swedish warning says: “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs advices against travelling to the West coast of Sothern Thailand among other Phuket and Krabi during the coming days because of the major damages to energy supply, communication and infrastructure created by the flood occurring after the earthquake outside Sumatra on 26 December.”
     “The Danish warning says: “The Minstry for Foreign Affairs advices against travelling to the West coast of Southern Thailand among others Phuket and Krabi because of the major damages on infrastructure etc. created by the flood on 26 December.”
     ”I suspect the ministry to have thought more about themselves when issueing the advice than the many people in Thailand whose lives depend on the tourism,” says Tom Sorensen who was himself on Phuket as of the day before the flood – and who is still on vacation on the island.
     ”The foreign ministry mentions “major damages on infrastructure, etc.” – that is usually roads, bridges, airports, electricity, water – but except for the few areas hit directly by the wave Phuket is functioning as before.”
      ”Restaurants and bars are open, shopping centres, supermarkets and other shops, Nai Harn, Kata Beach, Karon, most of Patong except hotels, restaurants and shops on the beach road itself, are all ok and up and running.”
     Gregers Moller, Scandinavian Society Siam admits that urging tourists to return to Phuket and other beach resorts in the area sounds like an ecco of the pleas issued after the Bali bombings, but insists that the two incidents are fundamentally different.
     ” ”This is a totally different situation. Thailand was hit by an exceptionally seldom natural disaster which has nothing to do with general safety warnings for travellers,” he says.
      ”As resident Scandinavians we fully understand that the tourism operators had to break off sending more travellers to the Phuket area in the days immediately after the catastrophy, where it was a question of getting an overview of how many and where each of the thousands of Scandinavians were.
     “But what the people in the area most need during the coming months to get back on their feet is for touristm from Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland to resume as quickly as possible.”
     Governor of Phuket Udomsak Usawarangkura expressed on Sunday regret that the Danish recommendation had been issued but also expressed his understanding.
     “We are all emotionally marked by this catastrophe. But to advice against going on vacation to Phuket giving the impression that all is destroyed here is a drastic overreaction,” he says.
     Captain Tavit Suping of the Royal Thai Navy who is coordinating the search in the affected area feels the advice as a gross exaggeration on behalf of the Danish government.
     “It would be interesting to hear on what technical data the Danish government has based its evaluation of the situation here,” Captian Tavit Suping says.
     “Apart from the hardest hit coastal areas everything is functioning normally. No bridges have been washed away, the busses are back on schedule, all is in that respect normal.”

The Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Swedish Rescue Services Agency have jointly set up a contact point in Krabi to help Swedes in distress in the Krabi area. They will also assist in the work of identifying the deceased.
Tel: +66 (0)75 6952 61/62/63/64/65/66 Mobile telephone: + 46 (0)704 800 994.

About Gregers Møller

Editor-in-Chief • ScandAsia Publishing Co., Ltd. • Bangkok, Thailand

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