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  Tuesday, August 16, 2022
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Around 700 flights were cancelled leaving 3,000 passengers stranded on Wednesday
Around 700 flights were cancelled leaving 3,000 passengers stranded on Wednesday as anti-government protestors brought Bangkok's main international airport to a standstill, a national newspaper reported. (VIDEO)

Protesters from the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) took over Suvarnabhumi International Airport, which handles around 40 million passengers a year, on Tuesday night, blocking access and paralyzing operations as part of a long-running campaign to oust Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat.

PAD leader Sondhi Limthongkhul was cited by the Nation newspaper as saying on Tuesday night that, "We have tried to pressure the government for more than 50 hours but nothing has happened, so we need to step up our campaign by closing the airport to tell the world about the problems Thailand is facing."

The misery looks set to continue for holidaymakers stuck at the country's $4 billion terminal with no end in sight to the chaos and anti-government protestors strengthening their hold over the airport.

Serirat Prasutanont, the airport chief, said on Wednesday "We tried to negotiate with the PAD but they won't talk to us," adding that the protests had damaged Thailand's reputation and economy beyond repair.

A handful of flights have been diverted to Bangkok's Don Muang airport and a military airbase, some 190 km (118 miles) east of the capital, as well as to other Southeast Asian countries. In addition a number of airlines, including Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, Malaysia and AirAsia, have canceled flights to Bangkok.

Meanwhile a number of people have been injured during clashes between government supporters and PAD demonstrators over the past two days.

Police reported 11 government supporters had been injured, some suffering gunshot wounds, in clashes in downtown Bangkok on Tuesday. Around three anti-government demonstrators were also wounded when explosives were thrown during clashes near the country's Don Muang airport.

The anti-government protests have gathered strength since early October, when a number of PAD members, who were trying to prevent an address by the new prime minister, were killed and injured during demonstrations.

The country's army chief, Anupong Paochinda, said the military were willing to help maintain public order in the country, but ruled out a coup, saying that, "Every commander in the armed forces has agreed that a coup is not the right way to resolve the current predicament."

The country's Deputy Prime Minister Chaovarat Chanweerakul said he would wait for the premier, who is expected to arrive back in Thailand later on Wednesday after attending the APEC summit in Peru, before talking to the anti-government leaders.


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