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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2676

Acting FM elaborates on action taken to evacuate stranded Sri Lankans in Bangkok

Colombo, 02 December, (Asiantribune.com): Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hussein A. Bhaila has told Parliament that a scheduled SriLankan Airlines flight from Hong Kong to Colombo was diverted to a military airbase in Thailand yesterday to evacuate 110 Sri Lankans who had been stranded in Bangkok, following the closure of the main airports there, consequent to the current unrest in the Thai capital.

Making a Statement on the floor of the House today (02nd December 2008), the Acting Minister disclosed that a second SriLankan Airlines flight is also due to pick up more passengers from Bangkok today and bring them home.

These arrangements have been made by the Sri Lanka Embassy in Bangkok with the Thai authorities, and in coordination with SriLankan Airlines.

He thanked the Minister of Ports and Aviation and the Chairman of SriLankan Airlines for acceding to the request of the Foreign Ministry to help in the evacuation of the stranded Sri Lankan passengers.

Given below, the full text of the statement made by Hussein A. Bhaila, MP, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs in Parliament today:

"Following political developments and unrest and the surrounding of the two Airports in Thailand, Suvarnabhumi, the new international airport and Don Muang, the old airport, about 360 Sri Lankans have been stranded at these two Airports.

"The Thai authorities deserve our gratitude for evacuating the stranded passengers and for putting them in hotels. They have graciously provided them with hotel accommodation and meals at Thai government expense.

"In the meantime, the Sri Lanka Embassy in Bangkok is looking at all options available to it to send the stranded Sri Lankans back home. Accordingly, a SriLankan Airlines flight from Hong Kong has picked up 110 passengers from Bangkok last night.

"I thank the Hon. Minister of Ports and Aviation and the Chairman of SriLankan Airlines, for acceding to our request and diverting a scheduled SriLankan Airlines flight from Hong Kong to Bangkok to bring home these passengers. A second SriLankan Airlines flight is scheduled to bring more stranded passengers from Bangkok today. The Country Manager of the SriLankan Airlines is looking into the further possibility of bringing in more such Sri Lankan flights to evacuate all Sri Lankans held up in Bangkok. Our Mission had assisted to obtain permission for the SriLankan Airlines flight to land at the U-Tapao airbase in Thailand.

"Our Mission in Bangkok is also looking at the possibility of sending some of them by an overland route to Malaysia. In this connection, they have already made arrangements through a reputed travel agency to organize a luxury bus service to ferry the stranded passengers to Kuala Lumpur at the cost of around US$ 65-70 per passenger. The travel agency will also assist to obtain the required transit visas to enter Malaysia.

"The Ministry has been advised by the Defence Attaché at the Sri Lanka Embassy in Bangkok, that to his knowledge, no military personnel were stranded. Our Ambassador too has confirmed this position.

"It must be stated that the Ambassador himself has visited the hotels where large numbers of Sri Lankans were accommodated. The Sri Lankan Airlines Country Manager has done his best to obtain whatever assistance he could from the airline and further he is also looking into the possibility of diverting more Sri Lankan Airline flights to assist the stranded passengers.

"A hotline number 00662 2611 935 and an Emergency Coordinating Desk has been opened in the Sri Lanka Embassy in Bangkok since last Friday to provide information to the families of the stranded passengers. I must mention that our Ambassador in Thailand Prof. J.B. Dissanayake was on hand personally at the airbase last night to supervise the arrangements for the evacuation of the Sri Lankans to Colombo.

The Foreign Ministry is closely monitoring the situation.”

- Asian Tribune -

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