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Thai authorities evacuate foreign leaders, summits canceled

THAI authorities have started evacuating foreign leaders out of the venue of the ASEAN Summit and Related Summits in Pattaya today after anti-government protesters stormed the venue.

A helicopter lifts off a helipad in the Royal Cliff Beach Resort Hotel in Pattaya at about 1:30pm (0630 GMT), The Nation news website reported. Another helicopter is still waiting at the hotel, said a TNN News report.

The ASEAN Summit and Related Summits, scheduled on April 10-12 in Thailand's east resort town Pattaya, have been canceled earlier today because of security reason, the Thai government announced.

The announcement came after the red-shirted protesters broke into the summits venue and the media center, which made the summits impossible. Meantime, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva declared a state of emergency in Chonburi province, where Pattaya is located.

"The government has a duty to take care of the leaders to return home," said Abhisit.

Early this afternoon, PM's Office Minister Satit Wongnongtaey said all ASEAN leaders and foreign officials were secured in safe place following the storm-in by protesters, adding that foreign leaders understood the situation and did not blame the Thai government for the collapse of summit.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd changed his course in the middle of his flight to Pattaya and returned home late this afternoon following a briefing on the cancellation of the summits, his spokesman said.


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