Hopes dashed as bodies of Thai students found after 13 days

national August 08, 2017 15:41

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There will be no miracle for the families of two Thai students missing in the United States as the Thai Consulate General in LA revealed on Tuesday, the 13th day after their rental car plunged into a ravine in a California park that a rescue team found their bodies inside the car.

There had been dim hopes that Thiwadee Saengsuriyarit, 24, and Bhakapon Chairattanasongporn, 28, two postgraduate students at the South Florida University, could have survived the accident that saw their car submerged in a river at the base of a 150metre cliff.

US agencies had been treating the two students as “missing” after they failed to return to their hotel on July 26 because rescuers had not been able to safely reach the car.

Thai Consulate General Tanee Sangrat told a radio station in Bangkok in a telephone interview on Tuesday that a US team had been able to descend to the car and found the bodies.

Rescue teams had been prevented from landing a helicopter at the site and reaching the car due to bad weather and strong river currents. It was also reported earlier that activated airbags had prevented rescuers from seeing inside the car.

Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai said earlier on Tuesday that authorities in the US had tried their best to retrieve the car despite the harsh conditions.

He was responding to reported criticism by relatives of the students who had travelled to the US. They reportedly had complained about authorities’ failure to reach the car and said they believed clues might be discovered inside as to the students’ fate. 

California Highway Patrol blamed heavy rains and a strong river current for blocking their efforts to retrieve the vehicle since the accident, to which there were no witnesses. 

Don said the Thai Consulate General Office in Los Angeles had assured him that California authorities had done their best to get to the car, although previous reports indicated that the consulate had criticised US rescue operations.


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