NAKHON RATCHASIMA – At least 18 people were killed and dozens wounded when a bus travelling in northeastern Thailand veered off the road and smashed into a tree, authorities said Thursday.
The accident occurred Wednesday evening in Thailand’s Nakhon Ratchasima province with the double decker bus carrying around 50 people returning home from a holiday.
“There are 18 people killed, of these 12 women and six men including one boy,” Suthep Ruenthawil, chief of the Nakhon Ratchasima provincial disaster prevention and mitigation unit said.
He added that 28 people are receiving treatment for injuries.
Suthep said the bus driver lost control while the vehicle was going downhill, before it veered off the road and jumped a traffic island then smashed into a large tree.
“The bus was torn into two parts,” he said.
The 45-year-old driver, Mr Krisana Chuthachuen, told the police that he felt guilty with the incident and decided to surrender to the police to face charges against him.
Mr Krisana admitted that he was fully aware that the braking system had failed as the bus was descending downhill and gaining speed which was beyond his control.
The driver’s statement about brake failure corroborated with statements of several survivors that they smelled something burning under the bus and knew them something went terribly wrong.
Some of the passengers said they crouched low, hoping that this would help reduce the impact in case there was an accident.
Nakhon Ratchasima governor Wichien Chantharanothai said inspectors were trying to determine the causes of the fatal accident which included the physical conditions of the road and the braking system of the bus.
Thailand’s roads are some of the most lethal in the world, killing around 24,000 people each year according to the World Health Organization.
More than half of accidents involve motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians though bus crashes involving tourists and migrant workers are also common.
In November 13 Myanmar nationals were killed when their van collided with a truck in central Thailand and burst into flames.
Statistics from the World Health Organization show that Thailand has the world’s second highest rate of traffic fatalities after Libya.
Source: Agence France-Presse, Thai PBS