BRITONS IN THAI COUP TERROR; Tourists Trapped as Army Seizes Control
Byline: DAVID WILLIAMS
THOUSANDS of terrified Britons were last night stranded in Thailand after a military coup.
The Thai army seized control of Bangkok while Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was at a meeting of the United Nations in New York.
At least 14 tanks rolled through the streets of the Thai capital to surround government offices, while By David Williams Chief Reporter the coup leaders declared martial law. Hundreds of soldiers took part in the operation, witnesses said.
A dozen patrolled around the Erawan Hotel, a major tourist haunt in the business district.
Last night one Scottish holidaymaker said: 'My hotel is in the middle of Bangkok and there is still traffic going about but we are not allowed to leave
Tourists trapped as army seizes control the premises. But where we are there are no government buildings so it's unlikely we'll see too much.
'Every TV station with news has been scrubbed. For the last two to three hours we have had no idea what's going on.' An announcement on national television and radio stations said a council of administrative reform, with King Bhumibol Adulyadej as head of state, had seized power in Bangkok and nearby provinces.
The official broadcasts said that the coup had not met any resistance in dismissing the government.
However, in an apparently futile attempt to cling to power premier Shinawatra, a controversial figure in the country, declared a state of emergency.
About 1,000 Britons are on holiday in the country, the Federation of Tour Operators said, although the figure does not include backpackers.
Some 20,000 British expatriates live in Thailand.
Despite the growing tension, many foreigners in Thailand's tourist districts seemed oblivious to the coup.
Holidaymakers packed beer bars and cabaret clubs as soldiers seized control of official buildings just a few miles away.
But many foreigners were stranded as airlines grounded flights.
Emirates Airlines which flies from Bangkok to London via Dubai cancelled flights 'due to the rebellious situation in Thailand'.
Gary Kings, 45, a clothes store buyer from Leicester, said: 'I have business appointments in Britain and France.
'If others follow suit then I'm totally stuck. There are convoys of troops on the road from the airport to Bangkok. …