CHIANG MAI - Families of at least 13 Malaysians killed in a bus crash here on Sunday, as well as those injured in the incident, will be compensated by the Thai government.
"The government's insurance office will pay the next of kin for each deceased THB1.6mil (S$62,500), while the injured travellers will receive up to THB600,000.
"If any of those surviving end up with permanent disabilities, they will receive the same amount of compensation given to the deceased," said a Thai senior official after discussions at the Highway Office here on Monday.
The 13 Malaysians were among 22 local passengers on board the bus, which was travelling from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai along Highway 118 on Sunday, when it crashed into another vehicle before falling into a ravine in the 11.30am incident.
In their discussion, the Thai officials also agreed that all autopsies are to be conducted by the Maharaj Nakhon Chiang Mai Hospital.
"We are working hard to complete the necessary documentation by today, so families can take back the bodies to Malaysia by tomorrow or the day after," said an official.
Officials here also urged the Malaysian embassy to aid in vetting the next of kin who stepped forward to claim compensation.
"As of today we have found 15 passports, and seven are still missing.
"We continue to search for evidence, and rest assured that all the procedures undertaken are in compliance with international standards," said the senior official.
Earlier on Monday, The Star visited the scene of the accident some 46km from the city, where police are gathering evidence to determine the cause of the accident.
"At this stage we believe the driver was reckless and went over the speed limit, so it went out of control.
"We are also investigating reports that the driver hit and ran from another accident before this one," said an officer on the scene.
However, he declined comment on allegations that the driver had previously been involved in another bus accident two years earlier, which had also allegedly resulted in fatalities.
The driver, who was identified as Somporn Bualuang, 58, was also injured in the incident.