in Xmas Eve inferno
Dozens injured, but luckily no fatalities during High Five Hotel blaze
Dozens of people were injured, but at the time of going
to press, there were no fatalities reported when fire and smoke swept
through the High Five Hotel on Soi 8 in Central Pattaya.
workers help an unidentified Thai woman escape down a ladder as the fire
blazes close by. About two dozen people were injured, mostly through smoke
inhalation, but luckily there were no fatalities when the High Five Hotel on
Soi 8 in Central Pattaya caught fire around noon on December 24. (Photo:
The blaze started about noon on Xmas Eve when an electric
transformer exploded next to the hotel, sending sparks into the open door of
a storeroom and igniting the contents inside.
occupants look for a way out as the smoke engulfs the High Five Hotel on
Xmas Eve. (Photo: Colin Avis)
Police said several foreign tourists were trapped briefly
on the newly opened ten-story hotel roof as flames engulfed the building.
Some tourists used bed sheets to climb down from their windows, others
managed to escape to an adjoining hotel by using a ladder as a bridge
between balconies, some were able to exit via the fire escape, whilst others
were rescued in the fire department’s "cherry picker".
tourist put the fire escape to good use.
(Photo: Colin Avis)
The only severe injury reported was suffered by an
American, William Joseph Korber, 32, who jumped to safety. Korber suffered a
broken leg and other broken bones.
The other injuries were mainly the result of smoke
It took firefighters about two hours to bring the fire
Hotel occupants on the lower floors were able to climb to safety using fire
department ladders. (Photo: Colin Avis)
Owner Narong Hongsamathip, 50, said all the hotel’s 75
rooms were occupied during the busy holiday period and extensive damage was
sustained on the fourth through seventh floors.
"We only opened the hotel a few months ago,’’ he
said, adding that, "The fire was caused by a power pole that exploded
next to the hotel. The flames spread from a storeroom on the fourth floor to
the other rooms.’’
Witnesses said most of the approximately 24 injured were
Western tourists, but their nationalities and extent of their injuries were
not immediately known.
recently upgraded fire brigade’s vehicles with the "cherry
picker" came to good use and saved lives. (Photo: Colin Avis)
tourists used bed sheets to climb down from their windows. (Photo: Colin
All systems go for Pattaya’s Countdown to 2004
Mass party on Walking Street and Bali Hai planned to welcome in the New Year
Plans for Pattaya’s New Year’s celebrations were
officially announced at a press conference on Monday afternoon. According to
the mayor, council chairman and TAT director all systems are go to ring in
2004 with a huge party.
Mayor Pairat Sutithamrongsawat announced that the Pattaya
Countdown 2004 is aimed at proving why Pattaya is called the fun city, as
numerous activities are planned throughout the night.
Shows under the theme of Pattaya the Extreme City,
Heavenly Bali Hai and the innovative Pattaya Happy New Year 2004 will take
place in South Pattaya from 7.30 p.m. right through to midnight and will
also include live bands, dancers and DJ’s from the city’s popular
Decorative lighting and a huge projection screen will be
set up along Walking Street for all to witness the countdown from 11.59 p.m.
including the final 10 seconds of 2003.
City provides community service to Larn Island
Food, animal vaccine and
The city administration’s monthly community program
volunteers visited the Larn Island community to provide important services and
hand over necessary items to residents in the lower income bracket. Wuttisak
Remkijikarn, deputy mayor, led a team of government employees, city councilors
and volunteers to the island community.
from the Princess Sirindhorn Vocational College gave free haircuts to Larn
Tesco Lotus also joined in the program by providing dried
food goods and sporting equipment, while the Banglamung Home for the Aged,
Banglamung Boys Home and the Garanyawet Home for Disabled Women donated clothing
and blankets for residents.
Other services included haircuts for children and adults,
given by students of the Princess Sirindhorn Vocational College, free dental and
medical checkups as well as vaccinating the island’s stray animals against
various diseases, particularly rabies, as well as sterilization procedures.
The city continues to provide aid to the poorer outer lying communities in an
effort to ease the burden of day-to-day survival and improve the quality of
More fun for Fun City in 2004
PBTA brainstorms family
entertainment activities for next year
Members at the monthly Pattaya Business and Tourism
Association (PBTA) meeting discussed new ideas for activities in 2004 to attract
further trade and travel to the city.
Atop the agenda was a discussion on how to increase local
tourism. PBTA president Thanet Supornsaharngsri said, “The association must
cooperate with both the government and private sectors to ensure that any
activities proposed are successful. The focus should be on attracting more
families to the city through a number of well-organized activities. The huge
success of the Pattaya Music Festival for past two years is a good example.”
Thanet pointed out the 2004 event is the first major one on
the calendar, scheduled for March 19 to 21, and added that the festival creates
a vast amount of revenue for local businesses.
Chutipan Kamolnart, city council member and president of the
Pattaya Music Society suggested that in addition to the festival a youth
‘battle of the bands’ competition should begin one week after the festival,
with further rounds being held each Saturday and Sunday and coming to a
conclusion by May. A fervent PR campaign inviting competitors could draw as many
as 200-300 bands from around the country to compete, and subsequent events could
include extra activities at the end of the Thai school term.
“Not only would this event draw youth to the city, but
their families as well. It is also a prime opportunity to develop musical
talent,” added Chutipan.
Niti Kongrut, TAT director for Central Region 3 voiced his opinion that apart
from the Music Festival and the proposed youth music competition, there are
other musical activities planned, such as the Jazz Festival in Bangkok and
Bangsaen. “As for Pattaya, the music festival is the first major event on the
calendar and already draws a great number of people to the city... It should be
one of the main features on the city’s events calendar throughout the year,”
Don’t worry, this won’t taste bad
Hundreds of kids receive free vaccine during annual polio vaccinations
The annual polio vaccination project kicked off last week
with hundreds of residents lining up in the courtyard of the Central
Festival Center in North Pattaya to take part in the project.
of children were brought to Central Festival Center last week to receive
free polio vaccinations.
Parents from around the area brought their kids in for
free vaccinations. The project is part of a nationwide program to eradicate
the disease. Chonburi is one of 45 provinces in Thailand undertaking the
annual project aimed at providing free preventative care and vaccination for
children under 5 years old.
The vaccinations were conducted in cooperation with the
city’s health department, the Bangkok Pattaya Hospital and the Rotary
Clubs of Pattaya, Jomtien-Pattaya and Taksin-Pattaya, as well as city
Throughout the day numerous shows and displays were
featured on center stage to entertain the throngs of people as they waited
in line to get their children vaccinated.
The project continues with the community Health Center of
Soi 6 performing further vaccinations in the interim before the next drive
on January 13, 2004.
The Elephant Light and Sound Show is again open to the public
Amazing stunt show uses Pattaya sights and sounds as backdrop
Having opened earlier this year, but devastated by lack
of visitors due to the SARS health scare, the Elephant Light and Sound Show
has now re-opened its gates to the public.
performed an exciting show during the recent Elephant Light and Sound Show
To mark the event, Santsak Ngamphichet, advisor to the
minister of tourism and sports presided over the launch of an amazing stunt
show at the venue with a model of Pattaya used as the backdrop.
Honored guests and tourists watched the stunt show unfold
complete with beer bars and entertainment venues, hotels and banks unique to
Pattaya as the setting of the show. The stunts featured scenes from the
‘Wild East’ (as opposed to the Wild West) with elephant stunts tales
from the sea.
The venue originally opened its gates to the public in
March this year but subsequently closed due the loss of visitors due to
flight restrictions because of SARS. Once again open to the public, the
venue provides a wide range of entertainment based on Thai history, both
ancient and recent.
The Thai name of the park, “Kocha hatee” refers to
battles on elephant-back popularized in recent movies when, during the
Ayuthaya period, Thai forces held off invaders of the kingdom.
M.I. Entertainment, which owns the park, is aiming primarily at the
tourist market by revealing Thai culture and traditions based on the
nation’s historical events. A variety of performances are featured during
two main show times - 2 p.m. and 5.30 p.m. daily.
Ex MP turns himself over to police following shooting of Kamnan Poh’s aide
Admits to shooting, released on bail
Thanong Siripreechapong, aka Por Ped, a former Chart Thai
MP from Nakhon Phanom, turned himself over to police after a warrant for his
arrest was issued for the attempted murder of Wallop Supapornpasuphat, 55, a
close aide of Somchai Khunpluem (Kamnan Poh).
Siripreechapong, aka Por Ped, a former Chart Thai MP from Nakhon Phanom,
turned himself over to police to face charges for the attempted murder of
Wallop Supapornpasuphat, 55, a close aide of Somchai Khunpluem.
The shooting occurred on December 15, when, according to
eyewitness reports, Thanong met with local businessman and another of Kamnan
Poh’s close aides, Suwatchai Anchaleewiwat, on Soi 99 in Naklua to settle
a debt problem. Suwatchai was accompanied by Wallop and another man
identified only as Nopporn.
Apparently they failed to resolve their differences, and
the two men accompanying Suwatchai allegedly beat Thanong. Obviously upset,
Thanong apparently fetched a pistol from his car and shot Wallop four times
before driving off.
Wallop was taken to the Bangkok Pattaya Hospital in
serious condition after sustaining gunshot wounds to his right shoulder, two
in his right upper chest and one in his left arm.
The following day Banglamung officers questioned Wallop
in the ICU, as well as other witnesses, and two police officers were
stationed outside ICU for Wallop’s safety.
Pol Lt. Gen Jongrak Juthanont, Region 2 police chief,
told reporters a warrant was issued for Thanong’s arrest for attempted
murder. Immigration checkpoints were alerted to prevent Thanong from fleeing
the country, and police were alerted in his home province of Nakhon Phanom
and Chantaburi where he has businesses.
Just four days after the shooting Thanong presented
himself to police, driving in a brand new BMW for questioning.
After approximately 1 hour Thanong was charged and
fingerprinted. Shortly thereafter, Phichai Sriwilai, brother-in-law and
manager of the Little Duck Hotel, brought some food in and handed over the
400,000 baht bail.
Pol Lt. Gen Jongrak Juthanont told reporters that Thanong
was told to hand in his licensed .38 caliber pistol. The former MP agreed,
telling police that he would comply with order.
Pol Lt. Gen Jongrak Juthanont added that he instructed
the registrar to cancel Thanong’s gun license.
The date for the court hearing is yet to be announced.
A San Francisco court released Thanong after
three-and-a-half years in jail after he admitted to conspiring to smuggle
marijuana into the US. He returned from the United States in July 1999.
Warning: Perverts lurk in fitness centers of Five Star Hotels
Portuguese man arrested for allegedly molesting a 13-year-old boy
A 63-year-old Portugese man was arrested after
allegations came to light that he had attempted to perform oral sex on a
13-year-old boy and also attempted to force the boy to do the same to him in
the steam room at the fitness center of a local luxury hotel in north
Police officers detained the man shortly after receiving
the report and an arrest warrant from the local court. Fernando Horacio
Coluna from Portugal was arrested as he sat in the hotel’s sauna. He was
ordered to get dressed and taken to the police station on Soi 9 for
year old Fernando Horacio Coluna from Portugal was arrested for allegedly
molesting a 13-year-old boy.
Officers from the special Youth and Women’s unit
interviewed the boy, a student from Europe. The boy told police that he was
sitting in the steam room when the man entered. The boy alleged that the
older man grabbed him and performed forced fellatio and even tried to force
him to do the same. The boy struggled and eventually managed to break free
from his attacker and ran out to his mother. His mother told reporters that
he was in a state of shock and was shaking uncontrollably as he ran out to
her for protection. On learning of the crime, the boy’s father rushed to
the hotel and then made an official complaint to the police.
At the police station, Coluna denied all allegations
saying that he did not perform any of the said acts and asked the boy’s
father to drop the charges. The boy’s father refused, stating that he
would see the case through to the very end and ensure that the suspect would
go to jail for his actions. Coluna even went as low as saying to the father
that he had used his son as bait so he could have him arrested.
What irked the father more was that the action taken, or
the lack of any, by the management of this first class hotel which was
absolutely appalling. "If someone had come into my property and done
such a disgusting thing, I would have thrashed him in front of everybody and
thrown him out and told him never to show his ugly face here again. Instead
the hotel management were trying to keep everything quiet."
He went on to say, "Children all over the world are
victimised by such acts and this first class hotel claims to be the crusader
against undesirables coming into this country, especially sexually depraved
persons, yet did not have the faintest idea what to do nor the expertise,
let alone any sensitivity in handling such a situation."
Coluna was charged with deprivation of liberty and carnal
knowledge of a minor under 15 years of age. Bail was posted at 100,000 baht.
We would have to think that hotels as classy as this one
would never condone such activities. This is a great opportunity for this
hotel to show that they truly mean what they say, prosecute this individual
and send the message to all pedophiles that this particular hotel is not the
safe haven it appears to be. A cover up is not the way to proceed. Expose
the matter, teach this person a lesson, and show that the hotel is trying to
solve the problem, not be a part of the problem.
We cannot prevent all the bad people from coming to Thailand to commit
immoral acts; therefore we must be on high alert and take the proper
precautions to prevent any horrible incidents towards our loved ones
especially our children. Some things happen unexpectedly and without
warning, but being unqualified, unprepared and ignorant is no excuse.
Banglamung police discover a cache of weapons and grenades
Criminals unloading before government amnesty ends
Residents in Kratinglai alerted Banglamung police after
they discovered a cache of ammunition and grenades in a pile of refuse.
Officers attending the scene collected over 100 rounds of M60 ammunition and
numerous grenades stashed into a bag. The stash was turned over to be
disposed of by explosive experts.
away - although some of these look too old and rusty to work, they
nonetheless look rather ominous.
Later the same day, police were also called to a location
in the Pong sub-district after another cache of ammunition and grenades were
found. The second discovery included a further five rounds of M60
ammunition, three M26 grenades and a .38 caliber handgun.
The finds comes after the central government’s announcement on the
crackdown on illegal weapons.
Five drug dealers arrested during police operation
Officers also receive weapons on the final day of gun amnesty
The vast amount of illegal drugs and guns in the Pattaya
area is diminishing as the war on drugs continues and the government amnesty
on possession of illegal weapons expires.
police proudly display weapons turned in before the central government’s
amnesty came to an end.
Pattaya police had a busy day on December 15 as officers
detained five men on drug charges. Officers arrested 22-year-old Eakasit
Sunghngern with 16 methamphetamine pills, and Visanu Chaibunrong with 210
methamphetamine pills. They were both charged with possession of a class 1
illegal substance with intent to sell.
Also nabbed in the process was Amnart Jantrthip with 8
tablets. He was charged with possession, while two other men, Antapol
Wanthonkham and Jiraporn Prateep na Klang were charged with drug use.
At a press conference, precinct police presented a number
of weapons and ammunition that had been handed in by residents before the
deadline for the central government gun amnesty. They also announced the
discovery of four .38mm handguns dumped in a fertilizer bag near Pratamnak
The nation’s war against drugs is showing positive results and as the
government tightens its grip on weapons, we hope we can expect to see a
reduction violent crime.