18 holidaymakers die in tour coach crash

A TOUR coach carrying around 50 relatives from 14 families back home from a seaside holiday flew across the road in Nakhon Ratchasima province, hit a tree then smashed into a roadside shop and broke into two killing 18 passengers and injuring around 30 others last night, Thai  News Agency reported today (March 22).

Among the dead is a 4-year-old boy whose mother said as tears streamed down her face that her son, Focus, asked to go to the seaside with their relatives and she did not think this would be his very last trip.

The Kalasin province registered tour coach was carrying around 50 people from this same northeastern province, who are from 14 families and are mostly related to one another, with the majority  working at a small rice mill. They  had together hired the tour coach from Kan Aeng Tour Company with 2 drivers to take them on a holiday to eastern Chanthaburi province during March 19-21, and were returning home when the accident occurred at 8 p.m. last night.

Somphong Priwilai, 51, the owner of the rice mill and who survived the accident, said he was sitting in the lower deck of the coach behind the driver, and when the accident occurred the driver was going very fast and the passengers singing in a joyful mood.

lucky survivor

Just then the coach started swaying and the passengers began screaming, after which it lost balance and flew across to the other side of the road, hit a tree, and a shop which was completely demolished, and broke into two.

He added that he managed to get out by using a hammer to break the glass window open and saw the dead and injured scattered in all directions.

A hundred rescuers came to help the injured who were sent to Wang Nam Kiew and Pak Thong Chai hospitals, with the more serious cases being sent to Maharat Nakhon Ratchasima hospital.

As yet officials have not been able to identify all the deceased victims because of the condition of the bodies. A family of 5 members also all died.

Vichian Chanthonnothai, governor of Nakhon Ratchasima province, or Korat, visited the injured at Wang Nam Kiew hospital and said the point of accident is a 4-lane highway in good condition but curvy as it goes downhill. This is an obstacle for drivers not familiar with this route and the authorities have alerted drivers to be careful of this stretch.


Top and in-text: The scene of the tragic tour coach accident last night. Photo: Thai  News Agency

In-text: Rice mill owner Somphong who luckily survived the crash. Photo: Thai News Agency