CHIANG RAI – In Bangkok Khao San and Silom roads and the CentralWorld shopping centre were among the favourite places for Songkran revelers.
In Chiang Mai, the area around Thapae Gate and roads around the old city were flooded with revelers, causing traffic jams in some areas.
Koh Samui and Koh Phangan in Surat Thani were popular with foreigners who brought out their water guns to join local residents and Thai tourists on beach roads and the main roads of the two islands.
Drivers to Koh Chang in Trat faced long queues for the ferry on Saturday as they headed for long holidays on the island. Many opted to cross the border at Hat Lek in Laem Ngob district of Trat to try their luck at casino resorts in Cambodia.
Thailand’s Minister of the Interior Charupong Ruangsuwan has ordered police officials to put more effort into reducing the death toll from accidents during the Songkran holiday, as revellers will soon be on the roads again on their way back home.
The order came after Road Safety Centre officials reported the number of deaths is on its way to breaking last year’s record.
From Thursday to Saturday, or close to halfway through the “seven dangerous days”, 173 motorists had been killed, the Road Safety Centre reported. In the first three days of Songkran in 2011, the centre had recorded 144 deaths.
The “seven dangerous days” campaign ends on Wednesday.
Last year 320 motorists died during the seven-day holiday period. Before Songkran began this year, the government vowed to bring down the toll.
Mr Charupong told officials in a televised conference to all provinces to adopt better measures to reduce the figure, but he said no one would be punished if provinces failed to do so?
The minister stressed the need to better regulate traffic on main highways as 70% of the 1,447 road accidents over the three days had taken place on main roads.
“I want to insist that those provinces which have a high number of accidents and deaths find measures to prevent more loss of life,” he said.
Some people are expected to return to Bangkok and other working places from their hometowns on Monday.
Government offices will open on Wednesday after the official holiday announced by the government ends on Tuesday. Many businesses will still be closed on Wednesday.
The government deployed almost 70,000 officials and set up 2,339 checkpoints across the country during the holiday.
On Saturday, 72 people were killed and 688 injured in 656 accidents.
Nakhon Si Thammarat had the highest number of accidents at 25.
Prachuap Khiri Khan was the next worst province with a death toll of five. The highest number of injuries, 27, was recorded in Nakhon Si Thammarat.
In the first three days of the holiday there were 1,447 road accidents which caused 173 deaths and 1,526 injuries.
Nakhon Si Thammarat province had the highest number of accidents at 25.
The only province without road accidents was Trat.
Most, or 46.65%, of the accidents were caused by drunk driving, followed by 24.09% speeding and 15.55% for dangerous driving on motorcycles.
Most, or 82.10%, of the accidents involved motorcycles, followed by 10.36% for pickup trucks and 4.14% for private cars or taxis.
People across the country were still celebrating Songkran on Sunday in popular destinations like Bangkok, Chiang Mai and major centers in other provinces. Officials expect the celebration, which peaked on Saturday, Thailand’s traditional New Year, will continue on Monday in some places.