Entries in Thailand (22)


Thai Airline Calendar with "Maxim" Models Has Officials Steaming

Nok Air(BANGKOK) -- The low-cost Thai airline Nok Air is bringing new meaning to the phrase, "Fly the Friendly Skies" by hiring scantily clad Maxim models to show off its fleet of planes in a series of photos in a promotional calendar. But the Thai Ministry of Culture is speaking out against the calendar, saying it tarnishes Thailand's image.

The models are dressed as flight attendants posing in front of the planes as part of a promotion on the company's Facebook page. In one of the pictures, the models are in yellow bikinis, yellow being the official color of the airline.

Those who participate in the promotion will receive the 2013 calendar, which the airline hopes will boost ticket sales.

The airline is known for its unconventional marketing tactics to promote its flights throughout Thailand. In 2011, Nok Air admitted to hiring only flight attendants who were young in order to rejuvenate the brand.

Nok Air CEO Patee Sarasin defended the calendar in an interview to news media, saying the women used in the photos were not actual Nok Air staff.

"It was supposed to be a gift to our customers, and so far the campaign has received positive feedback, increasing the number of passengers. There were so many viewers that the webpage crashed," he told a Bangkok newspaper.

"The airline business has always been seen as sexy globally," Sarasin told a travel web site. "That is why our planes...appropriately become the background of these models."

Sarasin also said, "given what the public is exposed to on a daily basis, we believe that we have not crossed the line."

But, the Ministry of Culture is trying to diminish that exposure, and change the nation's image in a society where prostitution is accepted and the ministry has lodged a complaint.

"The campaign focuses on the country's bad reputation regarding sex services, and an image that other organizations have been trying to change," said the ministry.

A 2004 estimate by Dr. Nitet Tinnakul from Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University found that Thailand had 2.8 million sex workers.

Although they're not happy with the message it sends, the ministry admits they can't take any action against Nok Air because the company hasn't broken laws by producing the calendar.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Red Bull Heir Suspected in Fatal Hit-and-Run in Thailand

Joseph Devenney/Getty Images(BANGKOK) -- An heir to the Red Bull energy drink fortune was arrested after he fatally hit a policeman with his Ferrari, dragging the officer’s body down a Bangkok street early Monday morning, police said.

Oil streaks stretching several blocks led police to a gated estate owned by the Red Bull family, local media reported.

Once a family lawyer was present, police searched the grounds, where they found the damaged Ferrari, which was taken to the Thing Lor police station as evidence, the Bangkok Post reported.

A log book keeping track of the family’s vehicles also indicated Vorayuth Yoovidhya had been behind the wheel at the time of the accident, despite the fact a household employee tried to take responsibility, the newspaper reported.

Yoovidhya’s lawyer said his client was still in shock and that he was prepared to offer funeral expenses and compensation, the Bangkok Post reported.

The 27-year-old faces charges of causing death by reckless driving and escaping an arrest.

The Yoovidhya family has a net worth of $5.4 billion, according to an August 2012 estimate by Forbes, and is the fourth richest family in Thailand.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Canadian Sisters Suffer Gruesome Death in Thai Hotel Room

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(KRABI, Thailand) -- Two Canadian sisters were found dead in their hotel room on a popular tourist island in Thailand, and the cause of their mysterious deaths is unknown.

The women's bodies were found in gruesome conditions, reportedly with large quantities of vomit and skin lesions, authorities said.

Noemi Belanger, 25, and Audrey Belanger, 20, of Quebec, were found dead in their room at the Phi Phi Palm Residence Hotel on the Phi Phi Island in the Krabi province on Friday.

Thai newspapers have reported that eating blowfish or poisonous mushrooms could have caused the deaths, but police say the cause of death is still unknown.

The sisters reportedly did not appear to have been murdered and that their belongings were not taken.

The sisters checked into the hotel on Tuesday and a hotel maid reportedly told Thai newspapers that she did not clean their room on Wednesday and Thursday because she believed they were inside. What she eventually entered to was a grisly scene.

Authorities found a large quantity of vomit, evidence of bleeding and that the women's nails had turned black, Dr. Pornthep Siriwanarangsan, director general of Disease Control Department, told Bangkok newspaper The Nation.

Thai police referred ABC News to the Canadian embassy in Bangkok, which was closed for the day. The Phi Phi Palm Residence Hotel did not respond to request for comment.

A team of investigators carefully searched the room on Sunday and the bodies will be sent to the Central Forensic Institute of Bangkok for examination.

Members of the Belanger family could not be reached for comment over the phone, but one relative, Frederick Belanger, posted on Facebook that the family was "baffled" by the tragic deaths.

In 2009, an American woman and a Norwegian woman died the same weekend on Phi Phi Island and experienced similar symptoms including vomiting and extreme weakness. Both women died at a hospital where doctors said shock and dehydration caused the deaths.

The families have said that they still do not know what caused the violent illnesses.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Indian Journalist Arrested for Car Bombing

Daniel Berehulak /Getty Images(NEW DELHI) -- Indian police arrested a journalist on Tuesday in connection with a Feb. 13 car bombing which seriously injured an Israeli diplomat’s wife in New Delhi.

Syed Mohammed Kazmi was scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday to face charges. Officials say Kazmi may have been in communication with a suspect who rode a motorcycle alongside the Israeli diplomat’s car and placed a bomb with a magnet on the vehicle, reports Time.

Israel has blamed Iran for a bomb that was discovered on an Israeli diplomat’s car in Georgia on the same day as the New Delhi attack.

It is unclear what organization Kazmi works for and what evidence the Indian police have on the journalist.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Bangkok Bomb Plot: Photos Show Explosives Hidden in $27 Radio

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- An alleged Iranian hit squad used $27 portable radios to hide at least five bombs that Israeli and American authorities say they intended to use against Israeli targets in Bangkok, Thailand.

Exclusive photos of one undetonated bomb, obtained by ABC News, show the inside of the radio packed with tiny ball bearings and six magnets.  Bomb experts say the magnets indicate the bomb was designed to be stuck to the side of a vehicle.

A surveillance photo of one of the alleged hit squad members, identified as an Iranian national named Saeid Moradi, shows him holding a radio in each hand.

According to authorities, a bomb exploded in the Bangkok house where Moradi and two other Iranians had been staying.  After the blast, Moradi attempted to hail a cab.  When the driver refused to pick him up, he allegedly threw a grenade, injuring four bystanders.

When police approached, Moradi allegedly threw another grenade, but lost both of his legs when it bounced back and exploded near him, according to Thai authorities.  He was arrested following the incident and remains in custody in Thailand.

After the attack, police say they discovered two unexploded bombs in the house where Moradi and the other Iranians had been staying, including the one shown in the photos.

The authorities in Bangkok say they recovered more than a pound of white military explosive from one unexploded bomb that they said was to be detonated with an M26 hand grenade fuse.  The photos show a pin that when pulled, authorities said, would trigger an explosion about four and a half seconds after it was pulled.


Israeli authorities and U.S. bomb experts say the bomb in the photos is strikingly similar to those used in other attacks last week in the republic of Georgia and India.  "While there are small differences," said one U.S. expert, "they appear to be factory made."

Multiple authorities told ABC News the devices were either slipped through airport security or were smuggled in a diplomatic pouch, which are not screened by security.

A magnetic bomb was discovered attached to the car of an Israeli diplomat in Tbilisi, Georgia and a similar device was believed responsible for the attack in New Delhi, which injured the wife of an Israeli diplomat, her driver and two passing motorists.

Iran has denied any connection with the arrests in Bangkok or to the other attacks.

Yoram Cohen, the head of Israeli's internal security service, Shin Bet, told an audience at a closed forum in Tel Aviv recently that Iran is trying to hit Israeli targets because of what it believes are Israeli attacks that have killed at least five scientists in its nuclear program.

What concerns authorities in the U.S. is that should Israel go to war with Iran, Israeli and Jewish targets in the U.S. could be hit by similar bombs in a terror campaign. 

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Police Seek Two More Suspects in Bangkok Explosions

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BANGKOK) -- Police in Thailand are on the lookout for two more suspects following a series of explosions that rattled a residential area in Bangkok earlier this week.

Three Iranian men were detained after a bomb in their rented house apparently detonated accidentally on Tuesday.  The men then fled and were ultimately caught by police.

Thai authorities say the men planned to target Israeli diplomats with explosives that could be attached to vehicles.

Israel has also linked the Iranians to recent attacks against Israeli diplomatic staff in India and the country of Georgia.  Iran has denied the allegations.

On Friday, Thai police said one of the two new suspects may be an explosives expert who was training the men. The other suspect is thought to have rented the home the men were using.

Meanwhile, local media in Bangkok Friday ran a photo of the three Iranian men allegedly socializing with what police say were prostitutes. The photo was taken in the nearby beach resort city of Pattaya before the men came to Bangkok.

The photo shows the Iranian men sitting around a restaurant table with two Thai women. Hookah water pipes and a beer bottle can be seen on the table. 

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


American Woman Murdered in Thailand

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The murder of an American woman on a business trip in Bangkok, Thailand, has triggered an international investigation as police search for an Indian man who was caught on surveillance video leaving the woman's room.

Wendy Albano, 51, was found stabbed and strangled to death on her bathroom floor at the Fraser Suites Hotel in Bangkok on Monday.

Surveillance video captured Albano entering her room Sunday evening with an Indian man who appeared to be between 25 and 30 years old. The man was caught on camera leaving the hotel an hour later with his luggage in tow, the Miami Herald reported.

A maid found Albano's body the next day and alerted authorities.

Albano's family told the newspaper she had met the man on a prior business trip to India and that the two were business partners who were working on launching a design and fashion accessory import business. Various media reports, however, indicated the two were dating.

The Tampa, Fla., woman had been a high-end interior designer for 20 years. She was in Bangkok looking for materials to bring back to the United States, ABC's Tampa affiliate reported.

Albano was well known in the area and was known for her high-list clientele, which included Derek Jeter.

She was married twice and is survived by two adult daughters, Jenny and Lauren.  

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Third Iranian Detained in Connection to Bangkok Explosions

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BANGKOK) -- Two Iranian men were caught in Bangkok on Tuesday after a series of explosions rattled a residential area there.  And now, another suspect has been detained.

According to officials, a third Iranian who had fled to neighboring Malaysia was caught on Wednesday.  Thai police say the Iranians were probably planning to attack individuals, rather than buildings or crowds.  A senior Thai intelligence official, speaking anonymously to global news agency AFP, said the men were preparing to target Israeli diplomats.

Israel has also linked the Iranians to recent attacks against Israeli diplomatic staff in India and the country of Georgia.  Iran, however, denies any involvement.

On Tuesday, an apparently accidental explosion tore through a home where the Iranians were living.  Two men were caught in the aftermath, and another reportedly tried to lob a grenade at police, but it exploded nearby, severing his legs.

Police searched the men's home and say they found C-4 explosives that could be attached to vehicles.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok issued a warning to Americans to be alert in public and to watch out for unattended packages or bags.

A U.S. Embassy spokesperson told ABC News that the U.S. condemns the attack in Bangkok, but could not speculate on any possible connections to the attacks in India or Georgia.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


State Department Condemns Thailand Attack, Suggests Iran Link

US State Department(WASHINGTON) -- State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland condemned the explosions in Thailand Tuesday. Though she never offered a direct link, she drew a parallel between the blasts in Bangkok and the attacks on Israeli officials in India and Georgia, which Israel has blamed on Iran.  Nuland said it was reprehensible that states and nonstate actors (Hezbollah) resort to terrorism as “a legitimate foreign policy tool.”

She did not directly link Tuesday’s attacks in Thailand with Monday’s attacks against Israeli diplomats, as the blasts are currently under investigation.

“However,” Nuland said, “we do note that they come on the heels of other disrupted attacks that do have Iranian fingerprints on them.”

“What I would say is that with regard to this bombing, the incidents in Delhi, incidents in Georgia, while we will await the results of the investigations, these events do come on the heels of other disrupted attacks targeted at Israel and Western interests, including an Iranian-sponsored attack in Baku, Azerbaijan and a Hezbollah-linked attack in Bangkok, Thailand, before this,” she said.

So does that mean the United States agrees with Israel’s assertion that Iran is guilty?

“We seem to have an uptick in this kind of violence,” she said. “We’re concerned about it. Some of these have been linked to Iran. With regard to these recent ones, we’re going to await the results of the investigation, but we are looking at the links.”

So is it possible that Iran and Israel are engaged in a proxy war against each other?
"We are concerned about use of international terrorism by Iran or by anybody else against Israel or against any other innocents and about a spike in the number of incidents that we’ve seen,” Nuland answered.

But Nuland couldn’t escape the linkage language.

“The point is,” she said, “that it is not an accident, that we are now drawing connections, that we are concerned, all right, that we are concerned that there has been a recent aggressive spike in use of terror as a weapon.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


At Least Five Dead after Multiple Blasts in Bangkok

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BANGKOK) -- A series of three explosions in Bangkok Tuesday injured five people, including one foreign man, according to local reports.

One explosion reportedly happened in a house in a bustling Bangkok neighborhood.  Local media said the second blast damaged a taxi, while the third injured the foreigner, who police say may be Iranian.  His legs were blown off reportedly by a grenade he was wielding.

Three Thai men and a Thai woman were also hurt in the explosions.

Last month, a Lebanese-Swedish man said to be affiliated with Hezbollah was caught by Thai police. He later led them to a large cache of urea fertilizer and liquid ammonium nitrate, which can be turned into a bomb similar to that which was used in the Oklahoma City bombing.

Also in January, the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok issued an alert saying American citizens should beware of potential terrorist threats, but Thai police said Thailand was not a terrorist target itself.

A spokesman at the American Embassy told ABC News Radio he could not yet comment on Tuesday's events.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio