PM Yingluck: Govt on alert to evacuate Thais from Egypt


BANGKOK, Aug 17 – Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said the Royal Thai Air Force has prepared a C-130 transport plane to evacuate Thai people from Egypt if the political situation in Cairo deteriorates.

She said the Thai government has also coordinated with commercial airlines to bring Thais back from the strife-torn Egyptian capital in case of emergency, while Thai authorities are closely monitoring the situation in the Middle Eastern country.

Deputy Prime Minister/Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said related government agencies have mapped out plans to evacuate Thai people but the Thai embassy in Cairo has yet to receive any request from Thai citizens to return to Thailand.

Hatem Salah Hassan Elnashar, Egyptian charge d’affaire to Bangkok, has informed the Thai Foreign Ministry that the interim government intended to hold a general election in nine months, while more than 600 people have been killed and 4,000 others injured in the political violence.

Mr Surapong said he submitted a letter to the Egyptian interim government via the charge d’affaire, expressing Thailand’s concerns over the situation and called on the interim government to facilitate the evacuation of Thai citizens, if needed.

In case of evacuation, the minister said, the best way is to transport Thai people out was via neighbouring Dubai, United Arab Emirates on a chartered flight.

Sihasak Phuangketkeow, permanent secretary for foreign affairs, held a meeting with representatives from the Labour Ministry, Education Ministry, Social Development and Human Security Ministry, Immigration Department and Thai Airways International yesterday to discuss plans for possible evacuation.

He said the Special Task Force Centre at the Consular Affairs Department would be on duty round the clock while the Thai embassy in Cairo would send advice on evacuation, if necessary, to the Foreign Ministry so that the government could make a decision.

The current situation in Cairo is worrisome but not critical and the Thai embassy there has been well prepared, he said.