Government steps up pressure over stranded Britons

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The Independent Online

The Government is doing a tremendous amount to help Britons trapped in Thailand by anti-government protests that have closed Bangkok's international airport, Foreign Office minister Bill Rammell said today.

But he said using charter flights to bring people home could help the situation but was not a solution.

"The situation is tense and we are monitoring events hour by hour," he told BBC's Radio 5 Live.

"I spoke to the Thai ambassador on Friday, our embassy is in regular contact with the government, the police, the army and the palace, strongly urging the Thai authorities to take action to enable British tourists to reach those airports that are still operating safely."

Asked about using Government chartered flights to help trapped travellers, he said he did not think it would help people get out any quicker.

He said: "The key issue is the fact the two airports in Bangkok are closed and therefore you've effectively got planes stacking up and not being able to get slots."

He had urged Thai authorities to let charter flights land at military airports.

A British businessman stranded in Thailand today said Britons there are in "no danger".

Mick Granger, from Essex, said the protests were aimed at the Thai government and not at foreigners.

He told Radio 5 Live: "The thing I would like to say is there is no danger here at all.

"I've seen some very sensational headlines, mostly on the internet, about fears for Britons trapped in Thailand and things like that and it's perfectly safe."

Mr Granger, who is in the country on a business trip, was due to leave on Thursday but his flight was cancelled when members of the People's Alliance for Democracy occupied Bangkok's international airport.

He said it was very difficult to leave the country because all the trains and buses were busy.

He added: "I went to the main train station the other day to try and get a ticket to go to Kuala Lumpur and they said 'yes we might be able to get you on a train on the fourth' and. of course. that takes 36 hours to get to Kuala Lumpur and I couldn't be bothered to wait that long and now I've got a train out on Tuesday afternoon to the Lao border."

There are fears the situation in the country is becoming more dangerous after explosions hit several sites occupied by the anti-government protesters this morning, wounding 51 people.