Illegal van crashes into truck, 9 killed

THAILAND - Nine people were killed and seven seriously injured when an illegal public van crashed into an 18-wheel truck early yesterday en route from Prachin Buri to Bangkok.

The crash took place at 4.50am near the bridge across the Bang Pa Kong River in Ban Sang, and the injured were taken to Bang Num Priew Hospital in Chachoengsao.

Police investigator Lt Sakchai Chantana said the van had picked up passengers from Prachin Buri's Muang district at around 4am to drop them off at Victory Monument in Bangkok.

Wirot Wongkot, the 30-year-old truck driver, was immediately arrested for coming to a stop without giving any signal. He said the truck's motor had died.

The driver of the van, Anusorn Srichai, was also severely injured.

Of the nine killed, eight were identified as Natthaphon Khaokhechon, Krisakorn Maneewong, Salinla Leusanan, Chadnai Cheyprasert, Suwanlaya Wuthmetha, Pongsak Leudthai, Adisorn Penyoo and Mongkol Sakulngarm. The ninth person could not be identified.

The injured were Rung Rungsaeng, Pram Rungsaeng, Suchanart Sukkhophan, Nanthaphon Wutmetha, Anusorn Sriwichai, Attachai Chaleewan, and Bootsaba Sukkhophan.

Passenger Bootsaba said the driver lost control of the van as he was going at a very high speed.

Changes needed

After hearing about the crash, Transport Minister Chadchart Sittipunt said he instructed the Land Transport Department to find a way to provide more transport, so people don't have to resort to illegal public vans. He told the department to team up with the police to resolve this problem, he said.

Chadchart gave the department a month to resolve these issues.

According to the World Health Organisation, up to 26,000 people are killed in road accidents every year in Thailand, the sixth highest in the world for road fatalities.