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Over 1,000 Lao allowed extra day to cross from Thailand

More than 1,000 Lao people were granted an extra day to cross the Second Laos-Thai Friendship Bridge between Mukdahan province in Thailand and Savannakhet province after Thailand began temporarily closing all border crossings with Laos on Monday.
Personnel at the Second Laos-Thai Friendship Bridge in Savannakhet asked Thai officials to keep the border open with more Lao workers wanting to cross back.
Deputy Head of the Second Laos-Thai Bridge Mr Vilaysack Phanthavong, told Vientiane Times on Tuesday that Thai bridge officials allowed one more day for Lao labourers in Thailand to return home.  
The Thai side of the bridge closed at 8:30 pm on Monday, resulting in many people being unable to cross before the closure.
Mr Vilaysack said on Tuesday morning that more than a thousand people were travelling across the Mekong bridge under the supervision of officials from both sides.
“If more Lao workers arrive at the bridge in coming days, we will request that Thai officials open the border again,” he added.
Bridge officers and medical staff were on duty to facilitate the crossing and to monitor for COVID-19 symptoms, Mr Vilaysack explained.
Many workers in Thailand began returning home from Saturday to Monday before the border provinces with Laos temporarily closed their borders starting on March 23.
On Monday, thousands of people queued at checkpoints between Thailand and Laos rushing to beat the border shutdown.
However, according to staff at the First Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge in Vientiane, some Lao people as still being permitted to cross the border and return home.
The returnees are travelling via the First Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge (Vientiane, Laos - Nong Khai province, Thailand), Second Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge (Savannakhet province, Laos-Mukdahan province, Thailand), Third Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge (Khammuan province, Laos-Nakhon Phanom province), Fourth Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge between Laos and Thailand in Luang Namtha province, Vangtao-Chong Mek international border checkpoint in Champassak province and the Nam Heuang-Nakaxeng international border between Xayaboury province of Laos and Loei province of Thailand.
At the Second Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge in Savannakhet, about 3,700 Lao nationals crossed in one day while Vangtao-Chong Mek international border checkpoint processed more than 6,000 people returning to Laos.

By Khonesavanh Latsaphao
(Latest Update March 25, 2020)

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