Stranded Russians shelter in Phuket temple

Stranded Russians shelter in Phuket temple

Locals donate food to trio who ran out of money after flight home was cancelled

Three Russian tourists have been cooking donated food in a building next to the crematorium at Wat Mai Khao near the Phuket airport after running out of money. (Photo by Achadtaya Chuenniran)
Three Russian tourists have been cooking donated food in a building next to the crematorium at Wat Mai Khao near the Phuket airport after running out of money. (Photo by Achadtaya Chuenniran)

PHUKET: Authorities are trying to help three broke Russian tourists who have taken shelter at a local temple after their flight home was cancelled because of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Local administration officials have been asked to contact the Russian embassy about the plight of the two men and a woman sheltering at Wat Mai Khao, said Napasorn Kakai, director of the Phuket office of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).

Alexsei Galiev, 31, Nikolai Sharov, 29, and Sofia Sharova, 24, said the airline they were booked on had had stopped flying from Phuket because of transport restrictions imposed in efforts to control the coronavirus.

They were supposed to return to Russia on March 25.

After the flight was cancelled, they had no money left and decided to walk from the airport. When they saw the temple they decided to take refuge there.

The tourists slept inside a run-down building beside a crematorium. They also converted a concrete platform into a makeshift kitchen where they cooked instant noodles donated by residents.

They were also given mosquito nets to sleep under, according to the TAT officials and local police.

Winai Sae Iew, the Mai Khao village head, said provincial public health experts had visited the tourists and thermal scans showed none of them had a fever.

The Russians were also given face masks to wear while the authorities relocate them to proper accommodation.

Ms Napasorn said the TAT office estimated between 200 and 300 foreign tourists might be stranded in Phuket following the province’s recent lockdown prompted by the spread of Covid-19.

Many were left with no place to go after their flights were cancelled and they could not rebook on other airlines.

She suggested that local administrative authorities and municipalities accommodate stranded tourists in schools which are now closed for the summer holiday.

A tent donated by local residents to the stranded Russians is seen at Wat Mai Khao where they have taken refuge. (Photo by Achadtaya Chuenniran)


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