Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Bangkok is burning: live-blogging May 19

The front page headline for the Bangkok Post of May 19, 1992 read, "Bloody Battles rage in City" (h/t bangkokpundit via AndersAEdberg).

But as tragic as that day was, what happened 18 years ago was on an altogether smaller scale than today.   The Thai capital is now enveloped in smoke.  Throughout the city, shopping malls, movie theaters, banks, and media organizations have caught fire and some have burned to the ground. There have been many explosions and shootings.  It would appear that journalists are being targeted by red shirts. "Black shirt" snipers roam the streets. Soldiers have been instructed to shoot anyone causing disorder.  Some residents have begun to evacuate the city. Other residents are prisoners of their homes, many going without electricity.

In the northern city of Chiang Mai soldiers have opened fire on people gathered on a bridge.  In the large northeastern town of Udon Thani protesters have burned down the government building.  over the government building.

Here is the latest from Bangkok, compiled from the tweets of Thailand-based journalists and bloggers.  Their reports are arranged by topic.  Under each of the topics, the most recent information appears first.   

Red shirt leadership 
beejoir - Red Radio announce ''If you see a bank you may destroy it no need to wait for orders''
Comment - Seven leaders of the red shirts have surrendered.  The red shirt leaders went onto a stage and announced that they would be turning themselves into the authorities..  At this point, many of their followers in the audience got angry according to witnesses. Some began throwing things at them.  Leaders had to be whisked away. 
georgebkk - Red-Shirt Leaders Turn Themselves In At National Police Office:
gnarlykitty - You've been telling them to fight, to stand ground, to not give up. They believed you. And now you leave them. Well let the fun begin.

Nation - Curfew to be imposed in Bangkok Wednesday night : Defence minister
tulsathit - Martial law my soon be unavoidable.
AFP - Thai army says in control, operation halted
georgebkk - CRES live on TV: We are faciliating transportation of protesters who want to go home.
- Government has instructed security forces to shoot anyone causing trouble, including looters. 

Injuries and deaths
Comment - an Italian journalist has was reported killed an hour ago (shot through the chest), plus two other journalists have been injured (one might be a Canadian)

Security: civilians, journalists, medics, firefighters, and foreigners  
rrystrom/Avoid Sukhumvit east of asoke, towards ekkamai... Traffic at standstill [everyone fleeing town but difficult]
georgebkk - The Bangkok Post is in a lockdown. They've threatened to burn our building down.
FCCThai - There are numerous reports that foreign and Thai journalists are being targetted by some elements in the red shirts.
beejoir - "Good luck to Ocean World's Fish/Sharks/Otters I hope you make it through today you poor bastards!"
nkoleszar - WARNING to people on the streets. There are roaming motorcycle gangs. No signs they target people at now but beware they're out there.
georgebkk - Soldiers tell all residents of Rama 4 buildings to evacuate
georgebkk - Urgent: People are stuck in the Channel 3 Building and crying out for help.
tulsathit - There are incidents where firefighters have been shot at to prevent them from putting out fire.
BangkokLife - Report received that many Reds are marching to The Nation (newspaper) on Bangna Trad now
georgebkk - TAN: Channel 3 goes off air
RichardBarrow - "Due to immediate threats on our headquarters, TAN Network is evacuating our editorial/production crews." 
TAN - All members of Thai and foreign media are warned to be very careful as protesters now targeting journalists
Michael_Yon - I well known Thai journalist just SMS'd saying he believes journos being targeted
tulsathit - All reporters please remove your green armband 
freakingcat  - All reporters please hide somewhere inside! Reds start to attack you!

Fighting, troop movements - shooting, bombing, grenades, etc. 
georgebkkBomb gone off at On Nut Tesco Lotus! Gunshots just been fired, people running away from Tesco Lotus.  ...Tesco on nut has shut it's doors. Avoid sukhumvit 79. Ambulances arriving.
aelacallan - Troops advancing up Sukhumvit from Ploenchit/Wireless towards Rachaprasong
vaitor- strong shootings inside saladaeng
TPBS - showed bus taken to Rama4 b4 it exploded & M79 fired at troops; media asked to leave area, firing btw Saladaeng & Samyan 
The main protest area has been entirely cleared out, but fighting continues.
georgebkk - 'constant gunfire now btw chitlom and pet32' /via @jn0nymous
MCOT (georgebkk) - Black-clad men shoot windows out, set ground floor of Central World afire; troops enter Ratchaprasong, Pratunam
Bangkok Post - Google map on the clashes in the city:

Comment:  late-night video of fire at Central World
veen_NT - Zen dept fire has reached the 2nd floor.
vaitor - nearly whole bangkok downtown is covered in smoke...
georgebkk - Photo of Thai stock exchange on fire
vaitor - fire at central world/siam square, mass explosions dindaeng
wisekwai - Siam movie theatre has been collasped via js100radio
bangkokpundit - ThaiPBS reporter states there is fire at Siam Square. Cinema is on fire; fire has spread to MK restaurant in Siam Square
RichardBarrow - PBS reporting Channel 3 building set on fire on Rama IV next to Carrefore, end of Soi 26.
beejoir - Rama IV Flames, I've never seen flames that big in my entire life!
newley - photo of Rama IV Flames
BKKApologist  - SET is on fire and going up FAST
beejoir - Central World is PROPER burning now.
freakingcat - 'Transformator blew up!!! Insane fire at whole electricity building at klong toey stage' Rama 4 is all destroyed! I am crying! 
georgebkk - 'I hear Central World and Paragon are burning.... Urgent: White smoke seen on top floors of Central World ...  
beejoir - Fires all around Rajaprasong, some fire trucks better get here fast of there will be big trouble!
beejoir - Live pic fire at Chidlom/Pleonchit
nkoleszar - MASSIVE smoke from Victory Monument area. Wind carrying it north and I can smell it clearly

tulsathit - Rioting reported in Din Daeng now.

RichardBarrow - About 500 redshirts here at 97.25FM Samrong. More arriving. Even more outside Imperial Samrong.  An angry crowd gathering here too.
tulsathit - Channel 3 is sending SOS to troops/police. Cars have been smashed and building under siege.
veen_NT - Help needed in front of Ch.3 station. Reporter car is attacked. reds are going to enter the building. 
BKKApologist: The Klong Toei rally's crowd strength. Keep in mind it goes deeper than this.

Outside of Bangkok - northern provinces

Chiang Mai
Michael Yon - Just talking with good source in Chiang Mai. "Many problems." Am told Robinson shopping center is closed and bank branches are closing and Reds are massing near night bazaar area. Banks are retrieving money from ATMs so if you need cash get it quickly.
travelfish - 20:00 curfew in Chiang Mai as well apparently
travelfish - Mulitple sources: troops in Chiang Mai now using live rounds on protesters at Narawat Bridge
UDDThailand - Troops are using live rounds on protesters in Chiang Mai!
PhraiHiSo - Chiang mai soldiers in line advancing with m16s on the road police shooting other protesters.

Ubon Ratchathani
New Mandala blog has pictures and a brief report on a protest in the city.

Udon Thani
Comment - The red shirts have the most support in the north and northeastern provinces (these regions comprise fully half Thailand's population).  Crowds have just taken over the provincial capital building in  Udon Thani (update: they burned it down).

This video depicts the take over of the government building. 

This video shows the government building in Udon Thani burning down.

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