Phuket death smash kills six

18 Apr 2011

The driver of a pickup descending a hill in Phuket lost control of his vehicle and rammed a tour bus yesterday. The Thai driver of the pickup and five of his passengers, including a four-year-old girl, were killed and a number of others were badly injured.

Three tourists on the bus were slightly injured and had sustained cuts from flying glass. The driver of the pickup has been named as Thongdaeng Piwjun, 41, while the dead passengers are all Myanmese nationals.

An initial investigation by local authorities blamed the crash on too many people in the back of the pickup and brake failure. Witnesses to the accident on Phuket's Big Buddha Hill at 11:30 yesterday morning said the pickup seemed to be out of control coming down the hill just before it rammed the bus.

The Myanmese in the pickup had been enjoying the annual Songkran festivities, while the tour bus was transporting 15 tourists to the nearby Siam Safari Elephant Camp. A spokesperson for tour operator Siam Safari said the bus had 15 passengers aboard, below the capacity of 18, when the overloaded pickup hit it.

The spokesperson added that the three injured passengers were Australians and that they had been taken for check-ups at Bangkok International Hospital on Phuket. The company says it has comprehensive insurance that covers all customer costs for incidents such as road accidents.    

The steep bend where yesterday’s tragedy occurred is a local accident blackspot that claimed the life of another Australian last year.

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