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Travel advisories warn to avoid Bangkok

Written by editor

Australia, Russia and Hong Kong have joined governments around the world in warning their citizens to avoid or reconsider travelling to protest-hit Bangkok.

Australia, Russia and Hong Kong have joined governments around the world in warning their citizens to avoid or reconsider travelling to protest-hit Bangkok.

The warnings were issued as troops fired warning shots and teargas in clashes with petrol bomb-hurling protesters in Bangkok on Monday. There were 70 people treated for injuries, including 23 soldiers, according to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. Four soldiers had gunshot wounds, he said.

There were no reports of tourists being involved or hurt.

Mr Abhisit on Sunday declared a state of emergency in the capital and surrounding provinces, a day after a six-hour state of emergency in the resort city of Pattaya after protesters there shut down an Asian summit meeting.

“We urge Australians not in Bangkok to reconsider their need to travel to Bangkok,” Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith told reporters in Canberra as the security situation in the “Land of Smiles” deteriorated.

“Those Australians who are in Bangkok, we urge them to stay within their homes or their hotels, to certainly avoid demonstrations and to certainly avoid large gatherings of people,” he said.

Mr Smith’s warning echoed an official travel advisory issued on Monday, the fourth time in three days that the Australian government has updated its advice on Thailand in the face of the rapidly evolving crisis.

In Tokyo, the Japanese foreign ministry warned travellers to be on high alert and stay away from government buildings and street rallies.

The ministry recommended Japanese residents and visitors to Thailand refrain from wearing red or yellow T-shirts, to avoid being mistaken for either anti- or pro-government protesters.

A particular feature of the unrest in the past year has been the strong allegiance to colours, with the current anti-government demonstrators wearing red, while last year their opponents adopted yellow as their signature colour.

After the Pattaya meetings were cancelled on Saturday, Moscow quickly moved to advise its nationals against travel to Bangkok. Thailand has become very popular with holidaying Russians in recent years.

“Russia’s foreign ministry recommends that Russian tourists refrain from visiting Bangkok as long as protests continue, and those who stay in the town of Pattaya not to leave their hotels if possible,” a ministry statement said.

The Philippines, Malaysia and South Korea on Monday also warned travellers to stay away from Bangkok or exercise extreme caution if there.

Hong Kong stepped up its travel advisory.

“(The government) strongly urges Hong Kong residents to avoid travelling to Thailand, particularly Bangkok, unless they have an urgent need to do so,” a spokesman said.

“Those who are already there should pay close attention to the situation there and stay away from large crowds or protesters.”

Hong Kong’s Travel Industry Council estimated there were about 8,000 visitors from Hong Kong currently in Thailand, invl;uding many who had flown in especially for the long Songkran holiday weekend.

All Songkran festivals in Bangkok have been cancelled.