Thai authorities kill 7 drug suspects near border

Updated 16 July 2012
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Thai authorities kill 7 drug suspects near border

BANGKOK: Thai security forces killed seven suspected drug smugglers from Myanmar early Monday in a gunbattle that was Thailand’s deadliest drug-related incident in three years, police said. Myanmar, meanwhile, reported a major seizure of methamphetamine near its border with China.
UN and US drug experts say Myanmar, especially Shan state in the country’s east, is a major producer of amphetamine-type stimulants. Thailand and China are large markets for the drug.
Thai police Maj. Gen. Surachet Thopunyanon said investigators who had been tipped off and were waiting at a border crossing for several days caught members of a drug gang as they entered Thailand’s Chiang Rai province. He said the suspects refused to stop and a shootout ensued in which seven were killed.
Surachet said police seized 520,000 methamphetamine pills and 70 kilograms (154 pounds) of crystalline methamphetamine and are still hunting for other suspects who escaped the scene, about 735 kilometers (455 miles) north of Bangkok.
Myanmar’s state-controlled Kyemon newspaper, meanwhile, said police there seized 73 kilograms (161 pounds) of crystal meth and hundreds of kilograms (pounds) of drug-making chemicals worth 3.14 billion kyat ($3.6 million) in a raid July 9 on a house in the town of Laukkai near the Chinese border.
It said nine people were arrested, including the homeowner, a member of the ethnic Kokang minority. Laukkai, 500 miles (800 kilometers) northeast of Yangon, is under the authority of the Kokang.
Myanmar traditionally has been one of the world’s biggest producers of opium and its derivative, heroin, but in recent years drug gangs affiliated with ethnic minority groups have also been making methamphetamine in border areas under little control by the state.


Seven injured in massive blaze at German theme park

Updated 51 min 25 sec ago
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Seven injured in massive blaze at German theme park

  • It took 250 firefighters until the next morning to extinguish the inferno, which sent huge columns of black smoke into the air.
  • The cause of the blaze remains under investigation

FRANKFURT: Seven firefighters were injured in efforts to put out a massive blaze at Germany’s largest amusement park, police said Sunday, as it reopened to visitors despite extensive damage to some areas.
The fire at Europa-Park started early Saturday evening in a storage facility before engulfing the Pirates of Batavia boat ride, completely destroying the attraction.
It took some 250 firefighters until the next morning to extinguish the inferno, which sent huge columns of black smoke into the air.
Dramatic images of the raging fire were widely captured by visitors to the theme park in Rust, southwestern Germany and shared on social media.
Some 25,000 people had to be evacuated from the park, but none suffered any injuries.
The local Offenburg police said in a statement that the blaze had left seven firefighters “lightly injured,” without giving details.
All of them were able to leave hospital after receiving medical attention.
Europa-park opened its doors as normal on Sunday, although large sections of the Dutch and Scandinavian-themed areas remain closed because of fire damage.
Europa-park’s chief executive Michael Mack tweeted his thanks for the rescue services, saying Saturday had been “a sad day” for the park.
The cause of the fire is still unknown. Police said some firefighters remained at the scene to carry out damping down operations and secure the area to allow experts to assess the damage.
Founded in 1975, Europa-Park is Europe’s second-most popular amusement park after Disneyland, attracting some 5.7 million visitors last year.