A dozen others injured in tragic start to Songkran's '7 dangerous days'
The Seven Dangerous Days of Songkran 2014 started with nine Cambodians killed and burned inside an overturned van on a road in Chanthaburi yesterday.
The driver of the vehicle, carrying Cambodian workers, lost control on the main road from Bangkok to Chanthaburi. The van overturned, and crashed into a roadside tree in the morning.
The vehicle burst into flames, and it took rescue workers more than 20 minutes to put the fire out.
“Nine charred bodies were found inside,” Pol Lt-Colonel Chatchai Chaiphet said. He is an inspector at Thung Benja Police Station in Chanthaburi’s Tha Mai district.
Chatchai said 12 victims were also thrown out of the vehicle during the crash and survived. “We have sent them to local hospitals for treatment,” he said.
According to an investigation, the van driver – a Thai woman – was among the survivors. “The workers were heading to a border checkpoint so that they could spend their Songkran holiday in their home town,” Chatchai said.
The accident took place as authorities and many partner organisations struggle to promote road safety during the Songkran Festival.
Millions of people hit the road during the Songkran break each year, raising the risks of accidents.
The Songkran period is called the Seven Dangerous Days because of its grim road-casualty record. This year, the Dangerous Days will run until April 17.
The Road Safety Directing Centre will report the road toll every day during this period and analyse the cause of accidents in a bid to guide officials on how best to prevent casualties.
“We are strictly enforcing traffic laws,” Interior Minister Charupong Ruangsuwan said yesterday.
He placed a strong emphasis on the control of alcohol consumption and the need to designate water-splashing zones.
Deputy Interior Minister Visarn Techateerawat said relevant authorities hoped to keep the toll from Songkran accidents at no more than 300 this year.
Pol Lt-General Ruangsak Jritake, assistant National Police commissioner for traffic affairs, took a helicopter ride to monitor traffic conditions himself yesterday. Heavy traffic was seen along main roads out of Bangkok.
Saraburi, a province just north of the capital, had a traffic back-up several kilometres long as a huge number of revellers began their Songkran journey home.
Closed to traffic
The following roads will be closed to traffic from 6pm till midnight between April 13 and 15.
l Khao San Road
l Chakkraphong Road
l Bowonniwet Road
l Samsib Hang Road
l Tanao Road (from Khok Wua Intersection to Samsib Hang Circle)
l Silom Road (from Sala Daeng to Narathiwat Rajanagarindra Road).
Vehicles with water-splashing equipment, plus people throwing water or stereo-systems are banned on the following roads during certain hours of the day between April 13 and 15:
l Thawi Wattana Road, between the bridge over Thawi Wattana Canal to Suphapburus intersection, from noon till 10pm;
l Utthayan (Aksa) Road, between Sanam Luang II and Suphapburus intersection, from 10am till 8pm;
l Chok Chai Road IV;
l Lat Phrao Wang Hin Road, from Wang Hin intersection to Chok Chai 4 junction;