Missing Thai students’ rented car found at bottom of cliff in US national park

national August 01, 2017 16:57

By The Nation

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Authorities in the US have found the rented car of two Thai students that plunged into a canyon in Kings Canyon National Park in California, but they could not reach the site of the crash due to strong river currents and steep cliffs, said Thai Foreign Ministry spokesperson Busadee Santipitak on Tuesday.

The Thai Consulate General in Los Angeles has contacted local authorities involved in investigating the accident and has been told that the California Highway Patrol is using all available means to retrieve the vehicle, she said.

The disappearance of Thiwadee Sangsuriyarit and her friend was revealed by Methinee Meeluea, a Facebook user, who posted on Facebook that Thiwadee, or “Min”, and her friend rented a car to visit Kings Canyon National Park but she had lost contact with her since July 26.

Thiwadee’s sister alerted US police that she had gone missing during her road trip to the park. The police then searched for her by helicopter and found the vehicle, which had plunged over a 150-metre deep cliff, leaving half of the car submerged in water.

However, they could not locate Thiwadee and her friend, who was identified only by her nickname “Golf”.

Methinee asked other Facebook users to pray for the pair’s safe return.

Methinee said the accident appeared to take place on Freeway 180 on the way to the park.

Busadee told a press briefing that the site where the car was found had strong water currents and challenging geographical conditions that made it difficult to reach.

“The site is deep down a cliff and the water there rises fast and the current is very strong,” she said.

Thai Consul General Tanee Sangrat will meet police on Wednesday to coordinate the search for the students.

The spokesperson said that the families of both students were travelling from Thailand to the US.

The Consular Affairs Department has issued a letter of recommendation for the families to help facilitate their entry to the US, she said.