Bangkok Ignites:The City of Angels is on Fire

image Tonight there is an eerie yellow feel in the city of angels with Bangkok now under a curfew . The only people on the streets are the army, police, authorized people and emergency services.

The events of today that saw the protest rallies ended and leaders arrested then transformed into lawless rioting and burning.

I just went to the rooftop of my apartment building where I can see the normally busy street now empty below. And to the north the famous Bangkok expressway hub that normally has constant flow of vehicles, now as none.

I took this photo over the nearby Bumrungrad Hospital where you can see the fire dominating the skyline as the Central World Mall just 4 Kilometers away continues to burns. Red flames are clearly visible reflecting on the billowing smoke as this landmark burns to the ground. 

I am not sure yet if the office tower attached to the Mall is burning too. If so like many others effected our business will be a casualty too as our office in on one of the higher floors.  

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(Click on this picture to link  to the original CNN Video showing the Central World Mall on fire.)

In the last few days it is difficult to move around in the city. Today was worse as the army moved to control escalating events. People were advised  to do only what are essential things. Many have left the city to go to the provinces including some of our staff. For many foreigners they have or will return to their counties in fear of further escalating tensions.

I had to walk quite a distance from my home to get past the razor wire blockades set up by the army to contain and defend against the ongoing civil lawlessness. Just nearby it was curious to see a mix of soldiers crouched and behind sandbag defense lines in readiness for potential attack while people streamed past purposefully as they leave new danger zones.

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As cell tower towers communications were being cut in attempts to stop rioters re-grouping so many people I saw had cell phones to their ears as it seemed intent on learning of troubles ahead and where the dangers might be.

Needless to say my venture out was short as I competed my errand and returned home.

As a chronological record I have updated the detail events of today in. http://www.performancecontroller.com//2010/05/being-on-the-spot-in-bangkok-is-not-a-good-scene/#comments 

I have also pasted it under the fold below: 

Bangkok Wednesday May 19th

This morning around 10:30 am troops secured the protesters stronghold areas around the King Rama VI Statute in front of the Lumpini Park. Troops used armoured vehicles to demolish the bunkers and moved in to secure the area. They then moved to secure other areas.

Natthawut Saikua announced from the rally stage at Rajprasong to stay and fight along with protesters, dismissing speculation about fleeing or surrendering in the face of advancing security forces.

Around 11.00 am, the security forces have moved passed Sarasin Junction heading to Rajprasong along Rajdamri Road.

Women, children and the elderly have been allowed to seek refuge in Wat Pathum Wanaram, the designated safety zone.

The red-shirt leaders still remaining at Rajprasong include Natthawut, Jatuporn Promphan, Kwanchai Praipana and Nisit Sinthuprai.

Arisman Pongruangrong, weng Tojirakarn and Suporn Atthawong have been absent since the morning. Police subsequently confirmed Arisman fled in a Yaris car

About 1.40 pm today, red-shirt leaders arrived at the Royal Thai Police on Rama I Road, located next to the Rajprasong rally site, to surrender. that seemed like a relief to many that it was all over. But that was short lived as riots and burnings broke out across the city.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva later issued state of emergency in Kalasin and Mukdaharn after riots spread to the provinces. The riots broke out in many spots in Bangkok after some red shirts leaders surrenders to police, ending Rajprasong rally site.

Tonight the government imposed a curfew in Bangkok from 8 pm to 6 am. which will be in place until further notice

Arisaman Pongruangrong, a red-shirt leader, was then arrested, in Plonechit area near my office at Central World. It was reported that he was taken to the Naresuan Border Patrol Police Base in Hua Hin. (That is 3 hours outside Bangkok)

The Criminal Court today also approved arrest warrants be issued against former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and nine other people on charge of terrorism.

Angry protesters set fire to 27 spots across the capital. The fire at CentralWorld was still out of control at 9 pm tonight.

Here is a full list in lastest first order of the updates I got via my SMS today Bangkok Wednesday May 19, 2010

• Fires erupt at 27 spots across Bangkok
• Thai Airways International will operate regular scheduled flights
• Arisaman arrested: reports
• Court approves arrest warrant against Thaksin, 9 others on terrorism charge
• Police Hospital evacuates patients from building opposite from Central World
• Central World building may collapse after arson attack
• Transport Co cancels bus services after 8 pm
• Outbound travellers need to show travelling document
• Kalasin and Mukdaharn under state of emergency
• Protesters set fire to at 1east 15 spots in Bangkok
• Curfew imposed 8 pm to 6 am
• Protesters loot Siam Square, set fire to Siam Theatre
• BTS suspends service Thursday
• Looting taking place at Central World
• 4 troops, 1 reporter injured in M79 attack on Thai-Belgian Bridge
• Angry protesters set fire to Channel 3
• Fire breaks out at 7-Eleven shop at Din Daeng
• Nation staffs told to go home
• Gunfight continues at Din Daeng Intersection
• Curfew to be imposed in Bangkok Wednesday night : defence minister
• Protesters set fire to Central World
• Protesters burn tyres on Lard Prao Road
• Pockets of red shirts continue to riot
• Summary of operations to gain control of Rajprasong
• Italian reporter killed in Bangkok clashes
• Red-shirt leaders surrender to police
• Jatuporn pleading with his red shirts to end protest
• Banks to close at 1.00 pm
• Jatuporn to surrender at police headquarters
• Natthawut vows to fight on at Rajprasong
• Thai stocks exchange closes 12:30 noon Wed
• Panithan: Red-shirt leaders have fled
• Troops detain 20 red shirts protesters
• At least two killed at Saladaeng clash
• 20 armed men in black captured by soldiers, Arisman believed fleeing
• 2 injured in clash at Samyan Intersection
• Troops secure area in front of Lumpini Park
• Panithan urges public members to stay away from besieging areas
• Thai stocks open down 5.27 pt, 0.69 pct
• Thaksin responsible for collapsed negotiations: Korbsak
• Senate cancels mediation talks
• Banharn calls for decisive, swift action to contain terrorism
• Protesters seized Thai Com satellite uplink station in Nonthaburi
• Rubber tyre fire near Chulalongkorn Hospital put out
• Gunfight erupts at Saladaeng
• Protesters set tyres alight at Saladaeng Intersection
• Protesters torch ONCB’s cafeteria building
• Troops push protesters back from Saladaeng Intersection
• Govt troops prepares to disperse red shirts at Rajprasong

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