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Group of stranded Sri Lankans in Bangkok airlifted

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Sri Lankan citizens, who are currently stranded in Bangkok, were to be flown out by a special flight yesterday, a senior official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. Speaking to Daily Mirror, he stated that a Sri Lankan Airlines flight from Hong Kong to Colombo was to be diverted to an airbase in Bangkok to pick up close to one hundred passengers including a few crew members. He further added that priority was to be given to SriLankan Airlines crew members, and passengers holding SriLankan Airlines tickets.

When contacted by Daily Mirror, SriLankan Airlines confirmed that flight UL 1423 taking off from Hong Kong, was scheduled to land at U-Tapao International Airport in Bangkok for a period of two hours. The flight was expected to land at Bandaranaike International Airport at 2150hrs last night. SriLankan stated that there are no confirmed subsequent flights taking the same route, or flying out of Bangkok. Sources from the Ministry stated that the flight was arranged following discussions with Sri Lankan Airlines, and that discussions are underway to bring the remaining Sri Lankans safely back into the island.

But informed sources from both SriLankan Airlines, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that the flight was primarily organized to pick up the stranded crew members from Bangkok.

Officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs further added that the option of using buses to transport passengers to Malaysia that Deputy Minister Hussein Bhaila explained to Parliament, is still open and under discussion. They added however, that this would be an expensive option, and that some passengers have concerns about their security when taking this path.

The Royal Thai Embassy in Sri Lanka stated that there has been no official communication between the Sri Lankan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Royal Thai Embassy in Colombo on the Bangkok crisis at time of going to press.

Sri Lankan tourists and passengers bound for Sri Lanka were stranded along with thousands of others when anti-government protestors from the People’s Alliance for Democracy stormed and took control of the Suvarnabhumi International Airport, Bangkok’s current main air hub, in what was called by the PAD as “Operation Hiroshima”.

Three thousand passengers were stranded inside the terminal buildings, while thousands of others were stranded due to outbound flight cancellations.

 

By Dinidu de Alwis

 

World Clock

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