Manitoban in Thailand calls for help

The daughter of a woman among the thousands of foreign tourists unable to fly out of Thailand is calling for federal government help.

The daughter of a woman among the thousands of foreign tourists unable to fly out of Thailand is calling for federal government help.

Manitoban Judith Tougher was supposed to return to Canada last week but since the airport in Bangkok was shut down by protesters, she and a group of about 80 other Canadians in her tour group are stuck, said Tougher's daughter Shannon Bowden.

They are among an estimated 2,000 Canadians stranded in the Southeast Asian country.

Bowden said it's time for the federal government to come to the aid of hundreds of Canadian travellers in Southeast Asia.

Federal Liberal MP Dan McTeague last week called on the Canadian government to help get the stranded Canadians out of Bangkok.

France, Spain and Australia have sent special flights to bring home their citizens.

Tourists trying to leave Thailand by going overland to Malaysia are finding themselves stranded there as well, said Bowden.

Some foreign tourists have gone to a former military airport about 200 kilometres southeast of the capital which has been able to handle a few charter flights a day. Others have begun flying out of provincial airports including Phuket and Chiang Mai.

Hopes to leave by Tuesday

Meanwhile, a Brandon, Man., doctor hopes he could be leaving Bangkok as early as Tuesday.

Dr. William Meyers said he was told by the Canadian Embassy in Bangkok that there are flights Tuesday from an airport north of the city.

But those flights go to Hong Kong, so only 37 members of his tour group are taking the option. Once they get to Hong Kong, a tour operator should help them get flights to Canada.

"There's an additional cost of course with this, because it's a different carrier," Meyers said. "Those of us who have chosen this flight are the ones who feel a much more urgent need to get home; some have medical problems and others like myself who have work commitments."

Bowden said her mother was considering taking a bus to Malaysia to get to another airport, but that plan fell through.

Bowden said her mother is holding up well, but she worries about some of the other seniors on the tour who are running out of much-needed medication.

Foreign Affairs Canada estimates there are 2,000 Canadians in Thailand.

"Tour operators, airlines, hotels and travel agents have been working non-stop to arrange extra flights out of military and provincial airports and are doing their utmost to get stranded foreigners out on flights," a spokesman said. "Flights are leaving, people are departing Thailand."

The Canadian Embassy in Bangkok said it has spoken with up to 200 Canadians each day by phone since the airports were closed and has responded to more than 400 e-mail inquiries.