Thailand: Bus crash kills 14 and splits vehicle in half

Photo from bus collision showing the vehicle leaning on its side
Image caption,Thailand has one of the highest rate of road deaths in the world

By Kelly Ng & Jonathan Head

in Singapore and Bangkok

Fourteen people have died in Thailand after a double-decker bus veered off the road and smashed into a tree.

Photos online show the bus leaning on its side and its front split in half, with parts of the tree wedged in it.

Thirty-two others were injured following the crash in Prachuap Khiri Khan, a coastal province in the country’s south.

Thailand has one of the world’s highest road accident rates, leading to thousands of deaths every year.

Many attribute this to poor safety standards on the country’s busy roads.

In 2022 alone, 15,000 people lost their lives on Thailand’s roads, according to the country’s Road Accidents Data Centre. In the UK, which has a slightly lower population, that number stands at 1,700.

In 2021, traffic-related incidents made up almost a third of total deaths in the country, the World Health Organization said.

The cause of Monday night’s crash has not been confirmed, but police suspect the driver may not have had enough sleep, AFP reported.

He was badly injured but survived. Authorities are also checking his blood alcohol levels, the news agency said.

Police are still verifying the identities of those who died from the crash.

Prachuap Khiri Khan is popular among tourists for its beaches, caves and hiking trails.

The collision split the front of the bus into two
Image caption,The collision split the front of the bus into two, with parts of the tree wedged in it

Rescuers spent “several hours” pulling the dead and the wounded out of the bus, said the Sawang Prachuap Dhammasathan Foundation, which supported the operation.

Pictures posted on the foundation’s Facebook account showed more than a dozen rescuers attempting to remove the tree which was pressing on the bus. Some smashed the vehicle’s windows open with a hammer.

The number of fatalities has fallen in the past three years, but Thailand is still ranked in the top 10 worst countries for road safety.

Despite this, there is little public demand for improved safety, and the issue rarely arises during election campaigns.

Some have attributed this to the fact that most of the victims – more than 70% of fatalities – are motorbike riders, typically among the poorest sectors of society, and most occur on rural roads.

Helmet-wearing is almost universally unenforced in Thailand, unlike in neighbouring Vietnam and Indonesia, and alcohol is often a cause of the accidents.

Governments in Thailand are more often swayed by campaigns backed by wealthier urban residents.

Roads in Thailand are good enough to drive fast on, but often poorly lit and marked, making accidents more likely.

Speeding is only very occasionally penalised, the fines are low, and often not collected at all.

It is also rare for Thai drivers to be disqualified from driving.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *