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Tourists Flee Thai Islands As Tropical Storm Pabuk Approaches

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Tens of thousands of tourists have fled some of Thailand’s most popular islands and resort areas as Tropical Storm Pabuk closes in and threatens to batter the southern part of the kingdom with heavy rains, winds and 7m waves.

The islands of Koh Phangan and Koh Tao, packed with holiday-makers during the peak Christmas and New Year season, have emptied out since Wednesday as tourists squeeze onto ferries bound for the southern Thai mainland, with swimming banned and boats set to suspend services.

Pabuk, Thailand’s first tropical storm in the area outside of the monsoon season for around 30 years, is poised to hit the two islands as well as neighbouring Koh Samui on Friday afternoon, before cutting into the mainland.

Packing winds of 104km/h, Pabuk is unlikely to intensify into a full-blown typhoon, according to forecasters.

“But we expect waves as high as five or seven metres near the eye of the storm,” Phuwieng Prakammaintara, head of the Thai Meteorological Department, told reporters.

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No official evacuation order has been given but tourists are leaving in droves, with those unable to book flights preparing to see out the storm on eerily deserted islands.

“I think the islands are almost empty… between 30 000 to 50,000 have left since the New Year’s Eve countdown parties,” Krikkrai Songthanee, Koh Phangan district chief, told AFP.

The acting mayor of Koh Tao, one of Southeast Asia’s finest diving spots, said boats to Chumphon on the mainland were crammed with tourists, but several thousand guests were still on the island likely to brave the storm.

“It’s difficult to predict the severity of the storm so people should comply with authorities’ recommendations.”

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On Koh Samui, a Russian man drowned on Wednesday after his family ignored warnings not to go into the sea.

Bangkok Airways, which has a virtual monopoly on the air route to the island, cancelled all flights in and out of Samui on Friday.

Authorities prepared shelters for tourists who decided to wait out the storm or who could not secure seats on ferries for the mainland before services are suspended late Thursday.

Pabuk, which means a giant catfish in Lao, is also expected to dump heavy rain across the south, including tourist hotspots in the Andaman Sea such as Krabi and Phuket.

The Similan National Park, home to pristine beaches and bays, has been closed until Saturday as a precaution as the storm bites hard into business during the peak season.

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“I was supposed to stay on a boat and dive all day tomorrow (Friday),” Annick Fleury, a 29-year-old tourist from Geneva told AFP in Khao Lak near Phuket, one of hundreds cutting short – or re-routing – their diving holidays in the Andaman area.

“If I can go to Krabi, I’ll try to get there tonight. Otherwise I’ll have to book myself into a nice hotel and just wait for the storm to pass.”

The southernmost provinces of Pattani, Narathiwat and Yala near the Malaysia border are also bracing for flooding.

Thailand’s economy is heavily reliant on tourism. The kingdom is expected to welcome a record 40 million people this year, many bound for its southern beaches and resorts.

World News

Over 4000 Migrants Are Seeking To Enter Mexico From Central America

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Over 4000 Migrants Are Seeking To Enter Mexico From Central America

More than four thousand migrants from central America are seeking to enter Mexico legally instead of going to the united states.  Mexico’s immigration policy has recently changed.  Migrants seeking us asylum are now required to apply first in Mexico.

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International institute of migration reports that four days after arriving at the Guatemalan-Mexico border, four thousand migrants from various south and central American countries, have requested permission to enter Mexico on Sunday.

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Mexican President, Andres Manue Lopez Obrador, has promised that the human rights of migrants will be protected, and has arranged for a regular and orderly entry by giving humanitarian visas which have helped avert episodes of great tension, like the chaos that greeted a group of central American migrants who illegally entered Mexico in October.

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World News

Putin Opens Door For Talks With Abe Over Disputed Island

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Putin Opens Door For Talks With Abe Over Disputed Island Chain

Russian President Vladimir Putin is ready to host Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for talks over a disputed Island chain that has prevented the two countries from concluding a peace treaty to officially end the World War II.

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Abe’s visit marks the 25th time both leaders have met since 2013, it is a reflection of their efforts to increase cooperation despite the disagreements over the Kuril Islands.

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The soviet army seized the four islands between the seas of Okhosk and the Pacific Ocean in the last days of World War II.

Tokyo’s refusal to recognize Moscow’s sovereignty over the islands has also made it difficult for peace to reign for more than seven decades.

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China Transportation Authorities Prepares For Spring Festival Travel Rush

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China Transportation Autourities Prepares For Spring Festival Travel Rush

Transport authorities across China are getting into high gear in preparation for the spring festival travel rush.  Three billion trips are expected to be made during the period.

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During the forty-day travel rush season from January to March, the country expects to see at least three billion persons moving across the country by rail, air and road.

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The China railway Guangzhou group is expected to transport thirty-seven million passengers during this period with more than one thousand pairs of trains.  For more convenience, the group has also decided to optimize passenger routes by establishing free service desks, providing more emergency lanes.

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