BANGKOK: A US Marine helicopter on Wednesday made a “hard landing” during military exercises in northern Thailand, seriously injuring some of the passengers, the US Embassy in Bangkok said.
Embassy spokesman Walter Braunohler said there were no fatalities in the incident, which involved a CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter carrying US personnel taking part in the Cobra Gold joint military drills.
A source close to the exercises said two of the helicopter passengers were believed to need emergency surgery, while one sustained more minor injuries and a further three were unhurt.
Cobra Gold is the largest US multilateral exercise in the Asia-Pacific, bringing together thousands of troops from the US, Thailand and other countries for field training.
The annual drills are a key part of the US military relationship with Thailand, whose air bases and ports remain vital to the American military’s logistical network in Asia.
Separately, Thai police said they had on Wednesday arrested a man for the rape of a 20-year-old Scottish woman who had hoped to work as an English teacher in the country.
The 25-year-old Thai suspect was arrested at his house in the southern city of Nakhon Si Thammarat based on evidence from closed circuit television cameras and witness accounts, officials said.
“He confessed that he raped her twice,” provincial city police commander Colonel Sompong Thiparpakul said by telephone.
“Medical examinations confirmed that she was raped,” he added.
The suspect was remanded in prison.
If convicted he faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to 40,000 baht ($1,340), Sompong said.
The victim told police she was raped by two of four men who attacked her after leaving a bar in Nakhon Si Thammarat on Friday.
In an interview with Scottish media, the victim criticised her treatment by the police and Thai media, who have published her name and photo along with articles questioning her account of the incident.
“The police and authorities are very humiliating, their whole system has let me down — they’re making out that I was some drunk idiot and it was my fault, which was not the case,” broadcaster STV quoted her as saying.
Thailand’s image as a tourist paradise has been tarnished in recent years by concerns about a string of violent crimes against foreigners, as well as episodes of deadly political unrest and devastating floods.
Also on Wednesday, Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio urged Thailand to ban all ivory trade in the country as part of a global campaign to tackle illegal wildlife crimes.