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Embassies close, tourists advised to stay away from Bangkok
The Thai government declares a two-day public holiday as the standoff between red shirt protesters and the military continues
Many embassies have shut their doors and are warning their citizens against travel to Bangkok as violence in the city continues. Four days of clashes in central Bangkok between anti-government protesters and security forces have killed 35 people since Thursday, reports CNN, with 11 of those deaths occurring in sporadic fighting throughout Sunday and overnight.
On the weekend, the United States elevated its travel warning to advise its citizens to defer all travel to Bangkok and defer all non-essential travel to the rest of Thailand. The Department of State has also authorized the departure of all non-emergency U.S. government personnel and eligible family members from Bangkok.
Other countries, such as the United Kingdon, Australia and Canada, are advising against all but essential travel to Bangkok, reminding their citizens that there is a continued risk that acts of violence could take place outside the danger areas without warning, including department stores.
A number of embassies have chosen to temporarily close their doors to the public as of Monday. These include the United Kingdom, Belgium, the United States, Canada, Germany, Japan, Australia and New Zealand as many embassies are located right in the middle of the current violence.
Many people in Bangkok have turned to social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter to keep pace with events as they unfold.
On Sunday, the Thai government declared Monday and Tuesday public holidays "in order to ensure the safety of the public" after the protests paralyzed the city center and all of the city's schools are closed. Though the army had suggested it would implement a curfew in parts of Bangkok on Sunday, it later reversed its decision.
The BTS Skytrain and MRT subway are not
running Monday and all shopping malls, offices and hotels in the main Rajaprasong protest zone remain closed. Over at Silom, another area of ongoing violence, AFP reports that guests at the Dusit Thani luxury hotel overlooking the sprawling protest site were forced to shelter in the basement after the building came under gunfire and was rattled by an explosion early Monday morning. They have since been told to check out.
The Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand issued a statement on Sunday for journalists working in Bangkok, warning: “The press in general should need no reminding that live ammunition is being used in certain areas, and that the situation is volatile and extremely hazardous. The wearing of dark clothing is particularly inadvisable in the present circumstances. The Thai Journalists Association has already advised its members to be especially careful in certain areas, notably the Ratchaprasong intersection.”
Respected blogger Richard Barrow has put together an in-depth Google map that hightlights areas in Bangkok affected by the violence, which he updates continuously with the latest on road blockages, mall closures and attack sites.
For the latest reports on the Bangkok situation, go to CNN.com.