Horror highway crash, blast kills 25
Accident deals blow to road safety campaign
published : 3 Jan 2017 at 01:48
updated: 3 Jan 2017 at 06:13
writer: Post Reporters
Twenty-five people were killed and just two survived a horror collision and fire Monday on a highway in Chon Buri's Ban Bung district, police said.
The crash claimed the most lives in one single accident over the New Year holidays, and is a blow to the government's so-called road safety campaign launched on Dec 29.
A passenger van and a pickup truck crashed, exploded and burned on Highway 344 in Chon Buri's Ban Bung district. (Photos courtesy of Sawang Ban Bung Rescue Foundation)
The death toll this New Year holidays is outpacing that of last year's record deaths and injuries in highway crashes during the seven dangerous days of the New Year's holidays, said the government.
The deadly collision took place in the early afternoon on Highway 344 in tambon Nong Irun when a passenger van swerved out of its lane and crashed into an oncoming pickup truck.
Immediately after the crash, the passenger van caught fire and exploded. Gas cylinders on board the van are likely to have fuelled the blaze. The two injured were the only survivors.
- Earlier report: Collision claims 25 lives
The passenger van was heading from Chanthaburi to Bangkok with 15 people including the driver while the pickup truck was travelling to Rayong, carrying 12 people including the driver.
According to police, 14 people, five men and nine women, were found dead in the charred wreckage of the van. Eleven people, five men and six women, in the pickup truck were killed.
Police said the van driver may have lost control of the vehicle, which crossed a ditch dividing the road and hit the pickup.
Two survivors were identified as Thongchai Tangwongpithikul, 20, a passenger in the van, and Pranee Boontone, 20, who was travelling in the pickup truck. Both sustained minor injuries.
Mr Thongchai, who sat at the back of the van, said he was dozing off when he felt the van lose control. He saw a fire, then smelled a gas leak. He spotted a broken glass window and kicked it open to escape.
"I don't know about the other passengers. They must have been sleeping when the accident happened. I had cuts on my knees and arms when I escaped from the van and my hair got burned a bit," he said.
Ms Pranee said she survived because she was thrown from the pickup truck when it was hit by the van. She said she did not sustain any serious injuries.
According to Ms Pranee, the van caught fire and the blaze spread to the pickup truck.
Ms Pranee was on the way to her husband's home in Chanthaburi with her family and relatives when the crash took place. There were two children in the pickup truck.
Sarawut Pimpa, a rescue worker from Silatham Rescue Foundation, said the van's engine was on fire when the rescue workers arrived, but they could not reach those who were trapped inside.
He said the van was equipped with gas cylinders that most likely exploded, he said.
Bancha Pannam, a witness, said he saw the van swerve out of its lane and crash into the pickup coming in the opposite direction and the vehicles caught fire.
Reacting to the crash, Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said all public transport vehicles are required to have GPS tracking systems installed before the Songkran holidays in April this year.
He said the device, which is used to monitor and track driver behaviour, aims to encourage drivers to drive responsibly to reduce the chances of accidents.
Speaking about the New Year death toll, Mr Arkhom said this year's was likely to be higher than last year's.
He said the figure was higher as there were more people travelling to the provinces this year.
According to the Road Safety Directing Centre, the death toll from road accidents in the first four days of the New Year's holidays [Dec 29-Jan 1] was 280 with 2,877 injures.
The Interior Ministry holds campaigns to promote road safety during the long holidays every year.
Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda said on New Year's Eve the road safety campaign during the holiday period would focus on drink driving and speeding, the major causes of road accidents in Thailand.