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MediaWATCH: Thai Elephant Stomps Three

MediaWATCH: Thai Elephant Stomps Three

Thursday, July 2, 2009
Phuketwan MediaWATCH

A daily wrap of Thailand news, with a Phuket perspective. Reports from national and international media, with translations into English from Thai.

news.sky.com An elephant has stomped three rubber plantation workers to death in southern Thailand, police say. The female beast attacked a 44-year-old male worker who was working in a farm on Wednesday morning, police Lieutenant Somjit Ma-ou told reporters. He said: ''It then freely wandered into another plantation a few kilometres away and attacked another woman. Her husband saw the elephant charging toward her, grabbing her body with its trunk and hurling her on the ground before stomping on her body.'' All three victims died instantly after she stamped on their chests and stomachs. Lieutenant Somjit Ma-ou said another victim was found in a nearby plantation later in the morning.The attacks happened in Trang province. The 38-year-old elephant, called Natalie, was eventually recaptured by her handler.

gmanews.tv Thai health officials have announced the deaths of two more people afflicted with swine flu, bringing the country's total to five. A Health Ministry official said that both had underlying medical problems: a kidney infection in the man, and diabetes in the woman. It was unclear where they contracted the flu. Thailand has reported 1473 swine flu cases. The country with the most confirmed cases in the Asia-Pacific region is Australia with more than 4000 and seven deaths.

Today's Must Read

guardian.co.uk The teenage girl who is the only known survivor of the Comoros plane crash that killed up to 152 people has described how she ''was hearing people speak'' as she floated in the Indian Ocean clutching a piece of debris for 12 hours before her rescue. Bahia Bakari, who sustained just a fractured collarbone and cuts and bruises, told her father she was thrown clear of the Yemenia Airbus A310 when it crashed in poor weather. Her mother, who was traveling with her from Paris to visit relatives in the Comoros, is among those feared dead.

timesonline.co.uk Airbus is expected to face calls to ground its worldwide fleet of long-range airliners when French accident investigators issue their first account of what caused Air France Flight 447 to crash off Brazil on June 1. It is believed that the accident bureau will report that faulty speed data and electronics were the main problem in the disaster that killed 228 people. The European Aviation Safety Agency is likely to be asked why it had never taken action to remedy trouble that was well known with the Airbus 330 and 340 series. Nearly 1000 of the aircraft are flying and until AF447, no passenger had been killed in one. Suspicion over the air data systems on the Airbus 330 and 340 series has increased after the disclosure that the aircraft had experienced 36 episodes similar to the one that brought Flight 447 down as it flew from Rio de Janeiro to Paris.

Reuters Abandoned by Michael Jackson after a humiliating child molestation trial in 2005, the late singer's Neverland Ranch could now become one of the biggest draws in the world as a memorial to the King of Pop. Jackson's family has said there are no plans for a funeral or burial of his body at the ranch in central California after his death last week. But the rural playground inspired by Jackson's alter-ego, Peter Pan, would remain an attraction in a region already visited by tourists, and it could rival Elvis Presley's Graceland as a future venue for his millions of fans around the world.

bbc.com North Korea is facing a ''critical'' food shortage, especially for children, the UN's food agency has said. The World Food Program's director for North Korea said the agency was unable to reach millions of North Koreans due to a shortfall in funding. The director, Torben Due, said the WFP had received no new donations for North Korea since Pyongyang conducted a nuclear test in May. He also said Pyongyang had barred the WFP from using Korean-speaking staff. North Korea had given no reason for that decision, he added. Mr Due told reporters in Beijing that the WFP had received only 15 percent of an international appeal for $504m and had to cut back plans to provide food aid to 6.2 million North Koreans to 2.27 million.

xinhua The current economic crisis has seriously dampened air travel, Singapore must get ready to meet new aviation challenges by restructuring and strengthening its airport operations and regulatory system, a Singapore leader says. Speaking at the launch of the new Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore and the Changi Airport Group, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew said that the emerging economies in Asia and the Middle East will lead the next wave of demand for air travel and Singapore has to be ready for this. He believed that once the global economy recovers, the aviation industry will bounce back. He said that full service carriers should re-examine their business models and form new alliances or mergers.

phnompenhpost.com The newspaper USA Today ran a story recently lamenting some of Southeast Asia's better-known ''must sees''. The story picked out Luang Prabang, Pai and Siem Reap as cases in point, but there are many others to choose from : Vang Vieng, Hoi An, Sapa or just about any island in Thailand. One doesn't need to have been travelling in 1974 to have noticed huge changes in Asian backpacking destinations. It's a common, and a selfish, refrain: ''It was so much better before everyone else found out about it.'' It seems many want to experience what the author describes as ''a cohesive, authentic, living community'' but they certainly don't want to share it - certainly not with 50 tour buses a day. But who is to blame?

nytimes.com Viktor Bout, the Russian businessman and suspected arms trafficker facing possible extradition to the US, is pursuing what his lawyer calls a rare legal procedure that accuses American officials of overstepping their jurisdiction during a sting operation last year. The procedure could delay the extradition process and, if successful, result in the filing of criminal charges against the three agents of the US Drug Enforcement Administration who took part in Mr. Bout's arrest, according to the lawyer, Chamroen Panompakakorn. Khun Chamroen says that US agents violated Thai law by apprehending Bout on their own before calling in the Thai police to arrest him. They were also carrying firearms in contravention of Thai law, he said. ''They have no power to do this.''

TNA The global economic slowdown coupled with domestic political problems and the spread of H1N1 have further depressed Thailand's tourism business this year, according to a survey. The University of Thai Chamber of Commerce survey between June 25-29 of 412 restaurant, hotel, tourism and souvenir entrepreneurs showed 60.5 percent saythis year's business is worse than last year, while 22 percent say business remained unchanged. Despite Thailand's recession, 62 percent said they were optimistic that tourism would revive in the first quarter of 2010, while 16 percent said it would start recovering in the second half. Three out of four said tourism operators are now facing a cash-flow problem and only 24 percent said they had no problems.

scmp.com As Hong Kong shoppers started stockpiling free plastic bags ahead of Tuesday's introduction of a 50-cent-per-bag levy, at least one grocery store found a way to dissuade them - introducing an early levy of its own. Housewives, meanwhile, said they were starting to hoard plastic bags for future use. ''We used to collect plastic bags only to use as rubbish bags, but now we need to keep some for shopping,'' a Kau Kee customer giving her name only as Ms Choi said. A Mrs Wat, outside the Po On Road Market complex, said: ''I still cannot get used to it ... I always forget I need plenty of plastic bags inside my bag when I go shopping.'' Some said they would turn to smaller supermarkets, which are exempt from the levy.

csmonitor.com Only a few weeks old, she's still just the size of a guinea pig, with a mangy, amorphously babylike appearance. It's love at first sight for Thais, who have gone gaga over the country's first native-born giant panda cub. Her daily doings at Chiang Mai Zoo have captivated the nation. ''Panda cub learns to suckle,'' blares a front-page headline in a mass-circulation daily one day. ''Lovely mom Lin Hui teaches her cub to crawl,'' announces another headline the next day. A closed-circuit TV system monitors every movement. Images of her are becoming standard souvenirs as Chiang Mai cashes in on her fame to revive its flagging tourism industry.

philly.com Researchers contend that fossils recently discovered in Burma could prove that the common ancestors of humans, monkeys and apes evolved from primates in Asia, rather than Africa. Chris Beard is a paleontologist at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh and a member of the team that found the fossils. He says the pieces of 38 million-year-old jawbones and teeth found in central Myanmar in 2005 show typical characteristics of primates. Beard says they knew they'd found a new type of primate and what kind of primate it was. He says jaws and teeth ''are almost like fingerprints'' in doing that kind of research.

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