FRIENDS of a family of four have issued a desperate plea for the public's help after they became stranded in Thailand due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The Cassidy family, from Brandlesholme, Bury, flew out to the popular island of Phuket on March 14 for "the holiday of a life time".

However, as the pandemic spread and restrictive measures to tackle it have tightened, the family have been forced to spend thousands of pounds to try and get back home.

But despite their efforts the family have been unable to get a return flight and are now facing becoming stuck in the Asian country.

In a bid to get them home, friends of the family have now launched a campaign to help raise the cash they need.

Charlotte Cassidy said: "We had our holiday booked since May of last year.

"It was supposed by the holiday of a life time, as we were meeting our son who lives in New Zealand, and we have not seen in three years.

"When we set out, the travel advice was that we could come. I checked because I'm a childminder and there was no way I would put those children at risk when I came home.

"Now every single airliner has shut down."

She added: "It's scary and it's very surreal. I'm terrified that we are not going to get home, and am I even going to have a business when I get back."

Mrs Cassidy, aged 43, along with her husband Lee, aged 45, and sons Jack, aged 24, and Joshua, aged 17; were due to fly home on Saturday.

However, on Monday, they were sent an email from their airline informing them their flight had been cancelled.

They described how in recent days Thailand had gone from only very limited measures, in response to the Covid-19 infection, to implementing a wide-reaching lockdown.

Mrs Cassidy said: "At first nothing seemed to change at all over here except that some restaurants in Bangkok and central Phuket began taking the temperatures of people going in.

"Everything was normal until March 20 and then it started to shutdown."

Unable to get hold of anyone at the airline, the Cassidys decided to head to the airport where they queued for hours to find out what they could do.

But there they say they were offered no alternative flights, and were instead told they could only apply for a refund.

After spending 24 hours on the airport floor, a family friend managed to secure them seats on another flight travelling via Bangkok and Hong Kong, at a cost of £3,000.

When they tried to board the plane, however, they were told that travel to Hong Kong was being prohibited without medical clearance.

They were also told it was their own fault for booking the flight without the clearance, which had been implemented over night, and so were denied a refund, they claim.

Further they were allegedly told that they would not even be allowed on the first leg of the journey to Bangkok.

Instead they were told to book new flights, which they did at a cost of £800.

But, after reaching Bangkok on a domestic flight, they have found that they are now trapped there, with their only remaining option to buy yet more plane tickets for more than £2,000 per person.

Mrs Cassidy said: "The airlines are ripping people off and its disgusting.

"We have spent nearly £11,000 on flights that we have not been able to go on. I just don't have another £9,000.

"It's terrifying because we can't get home, terrifying because we are being asked to pay nearly £20,000 to get home. Who has that kind of money?"

To make matters worse, after spending another 36 hours in the airport, the family have also been forced to book into emergency accommodation to self-isolate until they can get home.

They say they have also desperately tried to contact the British Embassy, without any success.

Mrs Cassidy added: "It's a very surreal and worrying experience and one I hope I never have to repeat.

"It's totally put me off going away again."

To help get the Cassidy family home, a GoFundMe page has been set up by their friend Casey Lynchey.

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