SURAT THANI, 12 September 2014 - Blood cockles living in Bandon Bay in Surat Thani province have died off, causing losses worth around 500 million baht for shellfish farmers.

Surat Thani governor Chatpong Chatphut has gone down to a section of the bay covering 20,000 rai of land in Kanjanadit District. The Bandon Bay serves as a natural spawning ground for many aquatic creatures.

According to Fisheries officers in the province, the blood cockles may have died from a parasite living in the waters of the bay.

Mr. Chatpong, however, has instructed local authorities to inspect the quality of water following complaints from locals that a rubber glove production factory has been occasionally dumping wastewater into the bay.

BANGKOK, 11 September 2014 -- Quality and price improvement of natural rubber is the target of the new 10-year rubber development plan starting September 1st this year. Permanent Secretary for Agriculture and Cooperatives Chavalit Chukhajorn said the new Rubber Development Plan to be implemented from 2014 to 2024 will take a holistic approach in tackling problems relating to the rubber industry. The plan will control the rubber planting area in the country and concentrate more on the quality and price of rubber produce. Under the plan, Thailand’s rubber output will be reduced by about 100,000 tons by the end of the first-year implementation, or 700,000 tons after 7 years. Towards that goal, the ministry will put down 400,000 rai of unproductive rubber trees annually and encourage growers to grow alternative plants that give higher economic returns, on an estimated area of 100,000 rai in seven years.

Besides, the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives will promote technology transfers to enable rubber growers to reduce production cost and adopt efficient technologies to raise their annual output. The Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives will provide five billion baht in loan to rubber growers to support their bids to raise the production capacity and develop processing techniques. The Ministry will also encourage mixed cultivation in rubber plantations where other economic crops will be grown between rows of rubber trees. It has set aside 120 million baht in soft loans to be provided to planters who are interested in this project.

BANGKOK, 11 September 2014 – The Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning (OTP) has revealed that the construction plan for the Pink Line electric train is awaiting proposal to the Cabinet while the bidding process is expected to take place late this year. 

BANGKOK, 12 September 2014  - Army officers in Saraburi province have found a cache of weapons hidden in an abandoned house in Wang Muang District.

The Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team from the Army’s Ordnance Department in Saraburi has discovered several deadly explosives including one Claymore mine, three M-79 grenades, three M-26 grenades, and one smoke bomb, as well as bullets for firearms.

The locals had been evacuated from the area before the Army went to retrieve the weapons in order to ensure their safety. The officers also discovered that the Claymore mine had been wired for use and could go off anytime unless defused properly.

According to Police Colonel Akaradet Primolsri, the Deputy Superintendent of the Crime Suppression Division, he will immediately launch an investigation into the case. At this point, police and soldiers are still unable to track down the suspects involved in the case.

BANGKOK, 12 September 2014 - The Ministry of Public Health has rehabilitated 473 people who were affected by political protests. 85% of them can now live a normal life but 28 other are under surveillance. Public health officers have been sent to continue rehabilitating them.

Deputy Director-General of the Department of Mental Health MD Phanphimon Wipulakorn on Friday announced the results of the ministry’s rehabilitation for political protest-affected people nationwide over the past four months. She said 13% of them still suffered from stress and some of them were diagnosed with depression, partly due to economic problems and their disabilities. The ministry would conclude the rehabilitation project on 15 September but would continue following up on the affected people until their mental health improved, the official said.

MD Phanphimon added that the all units should work together in reforming the country in order to reduce conflicts and create a happier society.

YALA, 12 September 2014 - Illegal logging in protected areas in Yala has been reported, prompting police to launch an investigation.

Forest rangers and police officers in the province have been dispatched to the forest reserve believed to be trespassed by groups of loggers. Police earlier received tip-offs that trees in Ramun district have been cut down by unknown people.

In Kaokalor forest reserve, the damage to the area has been estimated at over 21 million baht. In another protected area near the Saiburi river, over 23 rai of land have been destroyed, with the damage estimated at around 3.5 million baht.

Initial investigation indicated that chainsaws, knives and other tools have been used to tear down many valuable trees. Parts of the forests have also been torched.

Local police will continue to deepen the probe to locate the identity and whereabouts of the loggers.

BANGKOK, 12 September 2014  Metropolitan police have arrested five men who were responsible for the killing of soldiers at the Democracy Monument in April 2010. The men were also believed to have been tied to the murder of respected Colonel Romklao Thuwatham, who has been posthumously promoted to a General.

Police have confirmed that the five were indeed members of the ‘men in black’, an underground movement responsible for causing chaos on the streets of Bangkok during the 2010 Political Protests.

Colonel Romklao was believed to be fatally wounded by a bullet to the head. The men confessed that they had been hired to cause riots on the streets, but did not target any individuals in particular.

Deputy Police Chief Pol. Gen. Somyot Phumphanmuang has confirmed that there are two other members of the ‘men in black’ who still remain at large. As of now, the five arrested members would be sent to the Department of Special Investigation (DSI).

Meanwhile, Ms. Nicha Thuwatham, the wife of the late Colonel Romklao, posted a comment on her personal Facebook account thanking the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and Pol. Gen. Somyot for returning justice to her deceased husband.

NARATHIWAT, 12 September 2014 - The rail service in the southern province of Narathiwat has been temporarily suspended after bombing in Ra-ngae district last night.

The chief of railway station in Su-ngai Golok, Aravee Omar, said the bomb targeted a group of soldiers patrolling in the area. Fortunately, no one was injured but the explosion damaged part of the rail line.

The bomb squad was sent in to check whether there was another bomb planted before crews were sent in to repair the damaged rails.

YALA, 12 September 2014  – Police have stepped up security measures in Yala province following deadly attacks by insurgents in nearby Pattani on Thursday, with all movements of separatist groups being closely monitored. 

PHUKET, 12 September 2014  - A boat taking tourists out for diving in Phuket province has caught fire as it was docked ashore at a pier in Chalong Bay. Damages are expected to be no less than 10 million baht.

The boat has been completely set ablaze as it contained a lot of diving equipment and fuel. Strong winds have also fanned the flames even further. There were also no fire boats nearby the area to put out the fire in the beginning.

Fortunately, no deaths or injuries are reported. The dive boat belongs to the Andaman Ocean Safari Co. Ltd.

Authorities suggest that the fire may have resulted from an electrical shock in the boat’s battery or from a short circuit. Thankfully, other boats that were moored nearby the burning dive boat were able to relocate their vessels elsewhere before they were caught on fire.

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