70 hurt in Phichit train crash
More than 70 passengers were injured when two trains collided in Phichit early yesterday.
Officials inspect damage to one of two Chiang Mai-bound trains that collided in Phichit early yesterday.
A special "Ratchaphruek" train ferrying passengers from Bangkok to the flora expo in Chiang Mai was hit by another train, which caused three carriages and a rear engine to be derailed.
Police said the accident occurred just after midnight between Huayket and Taphan Hin stations in Phichit's Taphan Hin district - about 340 kilometres north of Bangkok.
Police said a train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai hit the last car of the special service train that was waiting for clearance to enter a nearby station.
The last three bogies of the Ratchapruek train were thrown off the tracks along with the rear engine of the Bangkok-Chiang Mai train.
The major rail link connecting the two cities was closed until noon yesterday as officers spent more than seven hours removing the damaged bogies and mending the rail line.
More than 70 passengers were injured, with 15 people in serious condition. The injured passengers included 20 foreigners from Canada, Japan and Poland travelling on the Ratchphruek train.
The accident occurred in a rural area inaccessible by roads, so rescuers and medical staff had to walk five kilometres to reach the injured people and transfer them to nearby hospitals.
Some passengers from the Ratchaphruek train were transferred to Chiang Mai by bus while others had their tickets refunded and returned to Bangkok as they no longer wanted to continue their journey.
Police failed to conduct blood alcohol tests on the drivers of the two trains because, according to State Railway of Thailand's (SRT) rules, drivers are not obliged give blood tests without an SRT lawyer being present.
The damage bill from the accident was estimated at Bt7.6 million.
The State Railway of Thailand's public relations Chief Sukhumal Sritula apologised for the accident and said that the SRT would take full responsibility for all injured passengers' medical costs.
It would also urgently seek measures to prevent such accidents occurring again - especially as the festive season is approaching
The SRT's investigating committee said the cause of the crash would be summarised within two days.