SEVERAL MYANMAR workers smashed glass windows with their heads and fists to get out of a van that crashed into a tree and soon caught fire in Kamphaeng Phet province yesterday morning. But nine of them could not escape in time and were consumed by the flames.
“I was woken up by the crash impact and did my best to break out,” a survivor said from his hospital bed at Khlong Khlung Hospital.
Five other van victims are injured, including 55-year-old Thai driver Promwat sae Phu. Due to serious injuries, two of the victims were transferred to the better-equipped Kamphaeng Phet Hospital later in the day.
Upon receiving the accident report, firefighters rushed to extinguish the fire engulfing the van on Paholyothin Road in Kamphang Phet’s Khlong Khlung district, only to find the nine people dead inside, huddled together in the front seats as if struggling to escape.
Pol Lt-Colonel Natthawut Somchaimongkol, the deputy superintendent of Khlong Khlung Police Station, said the van was heading for Mae Sot district in Tak province. An initial investigation found the van might have skidded off the highway due to heavy rains in the area, he added.
Forensics specialists were gathering evidence at the scene and will interview the survivors to try and determine the cause of the accident. Preliminary examination suggested the crash occurred in heavy rain either because the driver lost control on the slippery road surface or fell asleep behind the wheel. Several fatal accidents have occurred on the same section of the road, which is long and straight where drivers are prone to be less alert or even fall asleep.
It is believed that the van might have been on its way to take the Myanmar nationals to a border checkpoint in Tak province to process documents needed for them to return to work in Thailand.
The van was taking the Myanmar passengers from Phetchaburi province.
The bodies of the deceased victims are now kept at Khlong Khlung Hospital.
“Families of the deceased will get Bt300,000 compensation,” Kamphaeng Phet Governor Chaowalit Saeng-uthai said after visiting the injured victims at the hospitals.