Tourists escape unhurt as tour bus goes up in flames

Tourists escape unhurt as tour bus goes up in flames

The double-decker tour bus engulfed in flames in Chumphon's Sawi district early Thursday. All 34 foreign tourists on board, and the driver, escaped unhurt. (Photo by Facebook www.js100.com)
The double-decker tour bus engulfed in flames in Chumphon's Sawi district early Thursday. All 34 foreign tourists on board, and the driver, escaped unhurt. (Photo by Facebook www.js100.com)

Thirty-four European tourists were lucky to escape unhurt when the double-decker bus they were travelling on to Koh Sami burst into flames in Chumphon province early on Thursday, police said.

The incident occurred on Asian Highway 41 in tambon Kron of Chumphon's Sawi district, said Pol Lt Col Detbundit Dulpaeree, a duty officer at Sawi police station, which was alerted about the fire around 4am on Thursday.

Police and rescue workers who rushed to the scene found a double-decker tour bus with a Bangkok licence plate engulfed in flames.  A panicked crowd of foreign passengers watched the flames from the roadside. 

Fire trucks and crews were sent to quench the flames, but the bus was gutted.

The driver, Pongpan Daengduang, 40, told police the bus was taking 34 foreign tourists from various  European countries from Khao San Road in Bangkok to the ferry pier in Surat Thani. The tourists were en route to Koh Samui island.

When the bus reached Sawi district, the electrical system began malfunctioning, causing the hydraulic system for the brakes to fail. The brakes began overheating, sending out a strong burning smell. He quickly parked the bus on the roadside, said Mr Pongpan.

Shortly afterward smoke began pouring out of the left rear wheel, and he woke up the passengers  telling them to quickly disembark. They left the bus via the emergency exits on the lower level as the doors remained locked due to the failed electrical system, the driver said.

All tourists were unhurt. The driver said he tried unsuccessfully to use the fire extinguisher to put out the flames, as the fire spread quickly. He then called police and sought help from the nearest tambon Kron local administration organisation to combat the blaze, but he was told there was no driver available for the fire truck. 

Police then sought help from tambon Na Phor municipality, about 10 km away from the scene, asking that they send fire trucks to put out the fire.  It was nearly an hour later that the first fire engine arrived. The bus and all the passengers' luggage and other belongings left on board were destroyed.


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