Traditional wait after bus crash victims cremated

Traditional wait after bus crash victims cremated

Wreaths of flowers near the cremation site for victims of the bus crash at one of the temples in Kalasin. (photo by Yongyuth Phuphuangphet)
Wreaths of flowers near the cremation site for victims of the bus crash at one of the temples in Kalasin. (photo by Yongyuth Phuphuangphet)

KALASIN: Families of the people killed in last Wednesday's horrific bus crash in Nakhon Ratchasima will wait three days before collecting the victims' ashes and bones following mass cremations on Sunday.

The wait is a traditional custom for the souls of people who die a violent death, spirits known as Tai Hong. The waiting period is to allow the spirits to find peace.

The crash victims were cremated on funeral pyres on Sunday at Wat Pa Dongkrayom and Wat Pa Phutthamongkol. There were too many to use the crematorium incinerators.

Kamnan Surapat Sukchai of tambon Huay Pho said ancient beliefs and rituals were followed at funeral rites for people who die violently. Families were advised to wait three days before collecting the relics and ashes for merit-making.

"The families of the victims do not object to this custom. They are slowly recovering from such a huge loss, with support from the community," he said.

Eighteen people were killed and 32 others injured when their double-decker bus crashed in Nakhon Ratchasima last Wednesday on its way back to Kalasin from a trip to Chanthaburi. The bus ran off Highway 304 and overturned while descending from Wang Nam Khieo mountain in Wang Nam Khieo district.

The families of the victims are expected to receive compensation of 650,000 baht each from authorities this week, as soon as their claims are verified.

Mr Surapa said people want police investigators to do their best to ensure the bus driver, who had confessed to using methamphetamine, is indicted.  

Krisana Juthachuen, 44, was arrested about seven kilometres from the crash scene in Wang Nam Khieo district around noon last Thursday. 

According to police he had been charged with methamphetamine abuse five times since 2002. He admitted to taking two pills while driving the bus.  He was also going too fast.

Pol Col Boonlert Wongwatjana, deputy chief of Nakhon Ratchasima provincial police, said the investigation report should be ready to hand over to prosecutors in two weeks.

He said the investigation at this stage is focused on reckless driving causing deaths and injuries even though an injured victim alleged the driver had left the wheel, jumped off the bus as it crashed and left the passengers to their fate.

Pol Col Boonlert said there is insufficient evidence to consider a charge of attempted murder, which usually involves a precursor incident such as a brawl or a dispute.

The suspect has been charged with reckless driving, failure to help passengers after an accident, drug abuse and speeding. He is being detained at the provincial court.

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