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Illegal rafts seized from national park

A set of illegal rafts, docked in a lake in Khao Sok National Park in Surat Thani, were yesterday seized by forest rangers and five people were apprehended by police for allegedly possessing or building the rafts without permission.



The five suspects have also been charged with possessing a number of restricted logs without permission. The logs were found hidden under water, below the eight rafts. The rafts were previously used by Cheo Lan Chalet to serve as floating resorts.

All the suspects are Surat Thani locals who had been hired as workers to construct and renovate the rafts, each of which is worth about Bt200,000. Yesterday's search and arrest followed complaints filed last month by local residents.

Park chief Somkiat Luangbamrung said the rafts' ownership had been transferred to Anek Nurak without registration with the Natural Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department. A canteen, worth about Bt150,000, was also being built without permission next to one of the rafts, he added.

The previous owner, Rungthiwa Phoolkerd, will be questioned over why she had not registered the sale of the rafts to Anek. The rafts have been towed to Ratcha Prapha Dam located next to Khao Sok National Park, in Ban Ta Khun district.


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