Authorities in Nakhon Ratchasima are carrying out autopsies on the remains of 11 people including two children burned to death in a horrific accident on Saturday night involving a passenger van travelling at speed which appeared to veer out of control, crash into guardrails and explode into flames.
The horrific death of 11 people including two children in a crash involving a passenger van that lost control in the northeast province of Nakhon Ratchasima on Saturday again raises questions about the dangers of this particular mode of transport, especially when powered by LNG gas tanks. There are also questions about the speed the vehicle was travelling at as police in Korat have opened an investigation. One of the passengers, a 20-year-old man, amazingly, ran free from the exploding wreck.
11 people died in a fiery explosion in Nakhon Ratchasima province on Saturday night when a passenger van carrying 12 people exploded in a ball of flames on a busy motorway while travelling at speed.
The traffic accident occurred on the Mittraphap highway in Korat.
It appears that, miraculously, one man escaped the wreckage after he was seen running from the van after it went up in flames.
Van appeared to collide with the guardrails on the busy road before plunging into the ditch between both sides of the motorway and exploding in flames
The stretch of the motorway where the horrific incident occurred is located in the Si Khiu district of the province. The van appeared to plough at speed into the central ditch located as a divisor on the highway as it sped along with other traffic.
CCTV footage from a location across from where the accident occurred has been retrieved by police and shows the accident occurring in real-time.
The video clip shows the surviving passenger appearing out of the flames and running from a billowing inferno. He was later taken to hospital for treatment of burn injuries.
Police officers investigating the incident said it occurred at 10.23 pm. The passenger van was a Toyota model and was registered in the province of Amnat Charoen in northeastern Thailand.
Passenger van was travelling at between 99 km and 100 km per hour on Saturday when the crash occurred according to police sources in Nakhon Ratchasima
The van was travelling at between 99 and 100 km per hour when it veered off course and hit the median line ditch on the motorway before being engulfed by fire. The LNG gas fuel supply appears to have then burst into flames due to the impact.
Rescue services led by Mr Nikom Sae Oun of the Hook 31 rescue service located in Sikhiu district responded swiftly to the emergency call out after locals heard the loud explosion and saw the van on fire.
Onlookers had also seen the survivor emerging from the blazing van on the road. The fire was quickly extinguished revealing that 11 people had perished inside the death trap. They had been burned to death.
The survivor was later named as 20-year-old Mr Thanachit Kingkaew after he was admitted to the Si Khiu Hospital. His injuries were later revealed as relatively minor.
Provincial governor visited the 20-year-old man who miraculously ran from the fireball to save himself
Nakhon Ratchasima Governor Saksayam Sirimongkol visited the scene and went to the hospital to meet the lone survivor of the accident.
Police examining the scene found 11 bodies and 3 NGV fuel tanks. They are focusing the investigation on finding out just how the explosion occurred.
CCTV footage from the accident scenes and witness accounts speak of the van losing control and hitting the guard railing between the median artificial ditch on the Mittraphap Road.
Under Thailand’s relevant legislation regarding vehicle insurance and passenger protection, the occupants of the van were each insured for ฿10 million.
The safety of passenger vans has long been an issue in Thailand with an extensive history of crashes very similar to Saturday night’s and significant loss of life.
A key fear and concern has been driver fatigue, caused by working long shifts and the safety of such vehicles as well as speeding.
New laws and safety regulations regarding the operations of passenger vans over the last decade following repeated accidents with countless lives lost
In recent years, the Ministry of Transport has introduced a range of measures regarding the specifications of such vehicles, including the installation of speed-limiting monitors and devices as well as regulations limiting the maximum capacity of such vans to a 13-passenger limit while requiring that seat belts be also worn.
The speed of the passenger van on Saturday night immediately raises questions as to the absence of a working speed-limiting device.
Another fatal passenger van crash in Sa Kaeo claims at least 5 lives as a car ploughs into it after losing control
Nevertheless, the economical cost of operating such vehicles, the demand for the service and the extensive local industry behind them, make passenger vans an integral part of Thailand’s transport system for many low-paid Thai people who use them to commute to work and on inter-provincial journeys.
Two children among the dead, autopsies ordered
Police, on Sunday, revealed that they had obtained the CTV footage of the incident from public service cameras along the highway while they also had clips made by onlookers just after the van exploded.
They confirmed that it was travelling at high speed and that it appears that many of those killed had been crushed in the wreckage as the van overturned on the road divider and exploded.
The 11 dead included 2 children with the remains requiring autopsy procedures to formally identify those who perished.