Bus plunges into ravine in Thailand, killing 29, injuring 23

A double-decker bus plunged into a ravine in Tak province on Monday night, killing 29 passengers and injuring 23 others. Most of them were elderly people.

As of press time, at least 20 of the injured are in hospital, with one of them in a coma. The names of the accident victims are available at www.tsm.go.th

"We were heading to Ubon Ratchathani provInce on an educational trip," Prapoj Promsamit, deputy mayor of Tambon Ta Sai Luad Municipality, said yesterday.

The trip included both municipal officials and local villagers. Prapoj said they were travelling in four buses, and everything was smooth until the fourth bus plunged into the ravine.

"Initially, I was on that bus, but about half an hour before the accident, I got into the second bus to greet the participants," Prapoj said.

While he considered himself lucky, the deputy mayor offered sympathy for those injured and killed in his group.

He said his municipality would compensate the families of those killed.

The accident took place at around 8.40pm on Monday on a portion of the Tak-Mae Sot Highway that ran along a downhill slope.

According to the Thailand Accident Research Centre (TARC), accidents involving buses |have already claimed 100 lives since last |October.

Assoc Prof Dr Kunnawee Kanitpong of TARC pointed out that research showed single deck buses were far safer than double-deckers in mountainous areas or steep roads.

Caretaker Transport Minister Chadchart Sittipunt, who rushed to the scene of the accident, instructed engineers from the Department of Land Transport to investigate.

Meanwhile, Dr Narong Sahametapat, permanent secretary of the Public Health Ministry, said 19 of the victims being treated at King Taksinmaharaj Memorial Hospital were in a safe condition.

According to him, only one victim was critically injured and she had been transferred to Buddhachinnaraj Hospital in Phitsanulok provInce. "She has blood clots in her head that need to be removed," Narong said.