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Drowsy driving blamed for fatal crash in Sing Buri

Land transport officials and police say the probable cause of the fatal van crash in Sing Buri province that killed 13 Myanmar workers and the van driver was drowsy driving.

The officials came up with the assumption after inspecting the crash scene yesterday (Nov 24).

They believed the driver was asleep at the wheel as no brake marks were found at the scene. A check on the GPS device showed the speed of the van is 107 kilometres an hour.

The accident occurred at around 3am of Nov 24.

The van, which bears Bangkok licence plate 33-3241, slammed the rear of a 10-wheeler loaded with rice on the outbound section of the Asian Highway in Tambon Bang Mun in Sing Buri's Muang district.

The van caught fire upon the impact engulfing the van with all the victims inside.

Among the killed Myanmar workers, seven are women. They were transported from Tak province to work in Mahachai district of Samut Sakhon.

The bodies of 13 Myanmar workers and the van driver have been sent to Police General Hospital's Institute of Forensic Medicine for disaster victim identification process.

Sing Buri rescuers had to employ special cutting equipment to extricate all the charred bodies and were able to complete their task at 9am.

They said as they arrived at the scene, they could hear somebody in the van screaming for help but could not get in as the fire was raging strongly.

The van was equipped with two NGV gas tanks.

When we arrived at the scene the fire had engulfed the entire vehicle. A few of us saw some people inside struggling to get out but we could do nothing. The fire was so intense and the sound of the leaking gas could be heard, said one rescuer.

Land officials said after the collision, the van travelled on for a bit and burst into flames, while the truck came to a rest on the right lane.

The impact was so severe that the 25-tonne truck was propelled a further 20 meters.

Police investigating the scene found no telltale brake marks which means that the van had collided with the truck at high speed. This was later collaborated by speed cameras which recorded the van traveling at 107km an hour.

Deputy superintendent of the Sing Buri Scientific Crime Detection Center 1 Pol Col Nattapon Samsen said investigators believed that the driver of the van was asleep at the wheel due to the fact that no brake marks were found.

An examination on the body of the driver will have to be made to see if any other physical evidence can be found.

The owner of the van, which belongs to Boonruan Tour Co, met with police investigators after the accident and stated that the van had been legally retrofitted to run on NGV and had passed a Land Transport Department inspection.

He told police that the driver was 47 years old and was a good driver and never had a bad record. The driver did not drink.

According to the Road Safety Centre, there were 226 cases of road accidents with 130 deaths that involved passenger vans in 2016.

For this year, only the first nine months recorded a total of 217 cases with 109 deaths. The most common cause of accidents came from tyre bursts, fires, drowsy driving, and speeding.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)

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