Wednesday 8:30 pm – The curfew has started. Hopefully overnight the army is able to bring order to the city. The internet has proved to be a very valuable tool for spreading information. If you turn on the Thai TV or radio right now, it is just patriotic pictures and music – just like when we have a coup! It seems the government doesn’t want people seeing how bad things are, or thinking about joining the mob.
I’m going to share more pictures with you. None of these are mine. There is also a Thai language website you can go to HERE that has a lot of pictures. Fair warning: the pictures on that website include some very greusome ones.
Plaza in front of Zen department store at Central World, the second largest mall in Asia. You can see this same area in a video I posted showing Bangkok Thunderstorms a few months ago.
Same building, opposite side.
View from (probably) the Intercontinental Hotel looking at the Zen department store at Central World. You can see the flames all along the ground floor and out of the roof. Most likely, the department store and most of the mall has been / will be totally destroyed.
Looking towards Siam Square. You see the Novotel Hotel on the left. The smoke is rising from the area around the Siam Theatre, which has been destroyed.
Red Shirts also torched city halls in at least two provincial capitals in the northeast. This is Ubon Ratchatani.
Finally, a view from the Thonburi side of the river, looking back towards the Grand Palace. The smoke you see is coming primarily from the Siam Square / Ratchaprasong area.
To share some perspective, as I’m talking with Tawn and with friends, and judging from Facebook comments, etc. the mood here in Bangkok reminds me very much with the mood in the US the morning of September 11, 2001. Now, please, nobody jump all over me about the number of deaths there versus here, etc. The point I’m making is that right now, these Bangkok residents are looking on in utter disbelief as their home, their city is going up in flames. The scale is so large that it is almost inconceivable.
Previous to today, I was handling the situation pretty well. Today, I’m drained. I can’t believe that even the angriest of protesters would do this. While I had initially believed that the Red Shirts had some legitimate grievances that should be taken into consideration, these actions make it hard for me to feel any sympathy for them. They are anarchists, not “defenders of democracy.”
Wednesday 6:20 – Thai-ASEAN News Network reports:
A number of fires and chaotic incidents broke out in Bangkok after the red-shirt core leaders have called off the red-shirt protest earlier today. The firefighting department has been able to put the fire under control at some areas but others remain unreachable and unsafe for firemen to entire. These areas include;
1. Siam Square and Paragon: firefighters are unable to enter the area, red-shirt protesters are armed and are shooting at will. Siam and Scala cinemas destroyed.
2. Centara Grand Hotel: fire has been put out
3. Stock Exchange of Thailand office: firemen unable to enter the area
4. Mahachon Plaza (entrance of Wireless Rd at Ploenchit Rd): firemen also unable to approach the area
5. Krung Thai and Bangkok Bank (Asoke Branch near Rama IV)
6. Narcotics Control Board
7. Bangkok Bank (Din Daeng): fire under control
8. Maleenont Building: firemen unable to enter the area
9. Bangkok Bank and Lotus Rama 4: firemen unable to get in
10. EGAT Klongtoey: fire under control
11. Central World Mall: Destroyed.
12. Bangkok Bank (Victory Monument)
Wednesday 5:25 – Reports from reliable sources indicate that both the Siam and Scala theatres, and presumably many of the adjacent shops, are burned down. Central World Plaza, pictured above, is engulfed in smoke and it looks like damage may be extensive and, possibly, total. The building with the waterslide-like lighting on it is where I had dinner a few months ago with visiting friends.
Wednesday 4:35 – Man with covered face set fire to ground floor of Channel 3 TV station, located on Rama IV directly south of our area of town. People trapped inside. Set fire also to Bangkok Bank branch in the lobby.
Protesters set fire to shops in the Siam Square area. Siam Theatre (one of the few independent cinemas in town and a favorite of mine) has collapsed. Fire is still burning but protesters won’t let firefighting crews fight the fire.
Bangkok Post, Post Today, and The Nation have evacuated their buildings as Red Shirts reportedly believe that the media was on the government’s side. They have been actively targetting journalists in the last 24 hours.
There are numerous helicopters and police planes circling overhead, keeping an eye on things.
Curfew tonight 8pm – 6am.
Taken by another friend of a friend.
Wednesday 3:30 – Additional fires have been set in various areas of the city. Reportedly a large fire at the Stock Exchange, corner of Rama IV and Asoke, very close to where I used to live. Can see the smoke – lots of it – from our current balcony. Also some white smoke, which I take to mean that the firemen are getting water on it.
A reliable source reports that Red Shirt radio is encouraging listeners to set fire to any local bank branch near them. “You are your own leader now” they are saying.
Curfew reportedly in place for tonight so army can clean up.
This morning (Wednesday 5/19) the Thai army broke down the Red Shirts’ barricade at the Silom/Rama IV intersection and within two hours had taken back about a half-mile stretch of Ratchadamri Road, all of Lumpini Park, and most of Wireless/Whittahyu Road.
The army stopped about a half-mile short of the main rally site at the Ratchaprasong Intersection. During this operation, all reports indicate that the army used great restraint however it seems the Red Shirts were targeting foreign and Thai journalists. Several were shot and at least one, an Italian, is dead.
At 1:15 the Red Shirt leaders surrendered to the Royal Thai Police after speaking to their supporters and asking them to go home. Unfortunately, there are several thousand angry Red Shirt protesters who are too amped up right now and they are directed their anger in a variety of ways.
(Taken by a friend of a friend on Facebook)
As of 2:41 there are numerous confirmed reports of fires burning at Central World Mall and possibly also at Gaysorn Plaza and Siam Paragon. This, in addition to fires set to the tyre barricades elsewhere in the protest zone, have turned that part of Bangkok into something that looks post-apocolyptic.
I will provide updates to this entry throughout the day as more news and photos become available.
As bad as this looks, I think the fact that the Red Shirt leaders have surrendered means that we’re nearing the end of this mess.