Swedes Caught Up In Thai Unrest

The Swedish
foreign ministry estimates that a few hundred Swedes are caught up in the
unrest, but the exact number remains unclear.

    “They can’t
get out of there, either home to Sweden or into the city,” said
foreign ministry spokesperson Gufran al-Nadaf to the TT news agency on Tuesday.

    “The roads
are blocked and there are demonstrators at the airport. All flights are
cancelled.”

    A Thai
Airways flight with 380 travelers from Sweden
on its way to Thailand late
Tuesday night was however able to land at Bangkok’s
old Don Muang airport.

    An airport
spokesperson told the Reuters news agency the airport would remain closed
through Wednesday, and Scandinavian airline SAS said it was cancelling all
flights to Bangkok
until security can be guaranteed.

    Around 50
of the passengers who were scheduled to take an SAS flight to Copenhagen on Tuesday were able to check in
but were then forced to wait at the airport.

    “We don’t
know what will happen with them because our staff was asked by authorities to
leave the airport,” said SAS spokesperson Anne Mette Philipsen to TT.

    Around 40
other passengers who had not yet checked in for their flights, ended up leaving
the airport to take refuge in a hotel in the city.

    A total of
nine passengers flying with the Apollo charter company were also stuck at the
airport, while an additional six never checked in and could be taken back to
their hotel.

    “Our
personnel have called all of our Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish passengers who
are there. None of them are especially worried for their own safety,” said
Apollo spokesperson Kajsa Moström.

    “They
describe the situation as chaotic but they aren’t afraid.”

    The Apollo
passengers were scheduled to fly with Thai Airways, but as of Tuesday evening
they had no further information about when they may be able to leave the
airport.

    Charter
company Ving had about fifteen of its own travelers on their way to Bangkok aboard a Thai
Airways flight.

    “The latest
information we have is that all departures have been cancelled, but that
certain planes have been allowed to land. Otherwise, they are being redirected
to other airports,” said Ving spokesperson Magdalena Öhrn.

    The unrest
in the Thai capital is part of a campaign by the opposition People’s Alliance for Democracy
(PAD) to oust the current government.

    The PAD has
occupied government offices since August and accuses the government of being a
corrupt puppet regime of the deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who is
currently seeking asylum in the UK.

    PAD
protesters had hoped that by taking over the airport they could intercept the
plane of current Thai prime minister Somchai Wongsawat, which was scheduled to
return from Peru
on Tuesday.

    The
protests also coincide with the start of high season for Swedish tourism to Thailand. Last
year, around 360,000 Swedes visited the country according to the Fritidsresor
charter company.

    While
Swedish travel companies continue to monitor the situation in Bangkok, they emphasized that many Swedish
travelers choose to bypass the capital and instead travel directly to popular
destinations like Phuket or Krabi.

    “We have
about 6,000 Swedes in Thailand
now. Eighty of them are in Bangkok,
they arrived on Tuesday morning,” said Fritidsresor spokesperson Marie Malmros.

 

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