Chiang Mai bus crash: Families of 14 victims to get over $62,000 each from insurers

The families of the 14 people killed when their coach crashed in Chiang Mai's Doi Saket district on Sunday - 13 Malaysian Chinese tourists and one Thai female guide - will receive Bt1.6 million (S$62,000) each in compensation from insurance companies.

Twelve others, including the 58-year-old Thai bus driver Somporn Bualuang, were also injured in the crash.

The victims' relatives were scheduled to collect the remains yesterday at Maharaj Nakorn Chiang Mai Hospital.

Chiang Mai Governor Pavin Chamniprasart said yesterday that a coordinating centre had been set up at the hospital to assist the injured and families of the deceased, overseen by the Chiang Mai Disaster and Mitigation Office in collaboration with related agencies. Insurance authorities have already informed Pavin that the family of each deceased victim would receive Bt1.6 million in compensation from two insurance firms.

The medical bills of those injuredwill be covered up to Bt50,000 in accordance with the Insurance Act. If expenses exceed that amount, an automobile insurance policy would pay up to Bt300,000 per injured victim, while the tour operators' insurance policy required by the Tourism and Guide Registration Act would cover up to Bt500,000.

Pavin said victims with permanent disabilities would receive the same compensation as that given to the deceased victims' families.

Initial investigation found the accident resulted from Somporn's carelessness and speeding, as well as the coach's less-than-perfect condition. The coach reportedly experienced a brake malfunction at a curve on the mountainous road, causing it to crash into a car, hit a pole and run off the road into a two-metre-deep ditch.

Police are also investigating a report that Somporn tried to flee from the site of an earlier crash with a pick-up truck in Chiang Rai province.

The Star Online reported that Ibrahim ibni Alrmarhum, the Sultan of Johor, offered his condolences to families of the victims. He said he had been informed that the 13 Malaysians killed in the crash were from Batu Pahat in Johor.

"I would like to extend my condolences to their families at this very difficult time, and I hope that the other passengers are able to return home safely," he wrote on Facebook yesterday.

In related news, officials from the Narcotics Control Board and the Land Transport Department joined police and military officers yesterday to conduct urine and breath tests of drivers of public vans at the Victory Monument area in Bangkok as part of a campaign to prevent accidents during the New Year.

Of 599 drivers, three tested positive for substance abuse. They were taken to Phaya Thai Police Station for further interrogation. Officials said they would be admitted to a voluntary rehabilitation programme if they confessed to drug abuse.

In another accident in Phetchaburi's Muang district, four young people were killed when their car hit a power pole as they returned from a concert in Kaeng Krajan district early yesterday.

Police said they suspected the driver had fallen asleep behind wheel. The accident occurred at 2.45am on Phetchakasem Highway in Tambon Rai Som.