Thousands of tourists have been stranded in Thailand after protestors brought Bangkok’s international airport to a halt and all flights were suspended.
Demonstrators from the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) stormed the airport in its latest protest in a four-month campaign to topple Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat’s government.Some travellers have been stranded for over 16 hours at the new £2.6bn international terminal and are running low on food and water supplies.
The protest will come as a major blow to Thailand’s tourism industry during its peak season. Tourism makes up 6 percent of the economy and employs approximately one million people. The industry was disrupted in August when protestors shut down airports serving popular beach resorts in Thailand’s south.
Australian travellers Robert Grieve was one of those caught up in the chaos. He told Reuters: “Our main concern is to get the first flight home and never come back. I haven’t even seen any staff since last night.”
Rachel Kite was one of at least 3,000 tourists at the airport. She told the BBC: “We’ve not been told anything by the airport authorities or by the poor staff of Thai airlines, who are completely overwhelmed. All of the information has been coming from the internet and from the BBC and other cable news channels.”
Ms Kite said she did not feel in danger, but that people were becoming “more and more tense” as the noise from protesters increased.
She said people were getting tired and some families with young children were running out of formula and food for them.
“I think the authorities are doing the best they can but inevitably tensions start to rise,” she added.
PAD claim Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat’s is a puppet for ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra. The businessman turned populist politician was ousted by the military in a 2006 coup following months of street protests against his alleged corruption and abuse of power.