Thousands of UK tourists remain stranded in Bangkok amid the escalating political crisis, with no immediate prospect of departure.
Bangkok’s international airport Suvarnabhumi will remain closed until at least Wednesday and the attempt to airlift passengers from airports elsehere in Thailand – Chiang Mai, Phuket and the naval base at Utapao – remain limited.
The UK Foreign Office confirmed: “Several thousand British travellers remain stranded in Bangkok.” About 1,000 customers of UK tour operators are among these.
Protestors have blockaded Bangkok’s two airports for the past eight days demanding the government resign. Amid signs of escalating tension, at least one protestor was killed in an explosion reported to be from a grenade attack at the domestic airport.
A senior Thai court ruled yesterday that prime minister Somchai Wonqsawat must step down over election fraud and the governing party be disbanded. Somchai is considered a proxy for former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was overthrown by a military coup in September 2006.
The situation is complicated by apparent support for the airport protestors among the country’s military, and support for Thaksin among many of Thailand’s poor. This has led to a stand-off so far with the police, but further social confrontation appears inevitable and a second coup likely.