Chiang Mai bus crash: Last-minute bus change may have caused tragedy

Chiang Mai bus crash: Last-minute bus change may have caused tragedy
PHOTO: The Star/ANN

BATU PAHAT - A change of buses may have led to the fatal accident in northern Thailand that resulted in the death of 13 Malaysians.

Survivor Tan Yang Soon, who is now at the McCormick Hospital in Chiang Mai, said the group had been told to board a new double decker bus on Dec 17 since one of the group members was quite old and could not climb stairs. They decided to change buses on the second day.

Tan's son Sien Nian, 36, said his father had told him that the travel agent then gave them an old bus which had no safety belts and was said to have problems.

Tan told him that the bus was going down a mountainous highway when it suddenly sped up.

"My father, who is an experienced lorry driver, said he felt something was wrong with the way the bus was moving.

"The bus driver had problems controlling the vehicle and it had hit a car and a pickup truck. That was when my father went to him and tried to pull the handbrake but it was not functioning at all," said Sien Nian with tears in his eyes.

A few minutes later, the bus skidded off the road, rammed a pole and slammed into some big rocks and trees.

Sien Nian lost four other family members in the accident: Tan Thin Thin, 36, Tan Sui Heng, 54, Ker Bong Ngwang, 57, and Low Chee Lan, 85.

The older Tan, 64, and Ker Shin Hui, 28, sustained various bodily injuries due to the impact and have yet to return home.

"I lost my cousin, grandmother, uncle and aunt, while my father broke his left leg and my other cousin had abdominal injuries," said Sien Nian.

"Both my cousin and father underwent a few operations. They are being warded at the same hospital for between two weeks and two months."

He said his father kept asking about their relatives but no one had the heart to tell him they had died.

"We hope to bring my father back to attend the funeral on Friday and Saturday, even if we have to put him in a wheelchair," he added.

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