March 01, 2014 00:00 By Jeerapong Prasertpolkrung
A bus full of school students crashed into a truck in Prachin Buri yesterday, killing 15 people and injuring 45 others.
Most of the victims were children on an educational trip.
They began their trip from Ban Dong Lhob School in Nakhon Ratchasima and headed for Jomtien beach in Chon Buri.
Nine of the injured were in a critical condition, while 10 others remain in hospital.
An ongoing police investigation suggested the bus had a brake failure and crashed into a truck on Highway 304 at about 4.30am. The impact of the crash caused the truck to overturn, and traffic stretched for more than four kilometres from the scene.
The accident drew the attention of caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who had a video conference with relevant ministers and officials to follow up on the accident and the delivery of assistance to victims.
Public Health Minister Pradit Sinthawanarong said: “Of those killed, 12 are children and three others are adults.”
Transport Minister Chadchart Sittipunt said the bus driver did not have a public-transport driver’s licence. He also fled the scene after the crash.
“His employer, which operates the bus rental, should be punished,” Chadchart said.
Department of Land Transport director-general Asdsathai Rattanadilok na Phuket said legal action would be taken.
“If the operator hires a driver without a public-transport driver’s licence, it will be fined Bt50,000. But if it’s a repeated offender, its operating licence will be revoked,” he said.
Deputy Education Minister Sermsak Pongpanich said he had already instructed the Nakhon Ratchasima Basic Education Office to ensure the victims receive compensation in line with their rights. “The family of each student killed will receive Bt80,000 in compensation,” Sermsak said.