Phuket Gazette Thailand News: 21 dead as Thai tour bus plunges into ravine; Govt to clarify amnesty; Isarn floods claim 30 lives


– Thailand news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

21 dead as Thai tour bus plunges into ravine
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: A chartered bus taking merit makers back home from a temple plunged into a roadside ravine in Lampang last night, killing 21 people and injuring 19 others.

Police said the accident happened at 7 pm on the Wang Nua-Phayao Road in Tambon Wangthong in Lampang’s Wang Nua district.

Police said the bus crashed into the roadside guardrail and plunged into a 50-metre-deep ravine.

Rescue workers had to tie ropes to the guardrail before they could climb down to rescue the injured passengers.

Police said all the killed passengers were women.

The bus was one of three buses taking Buddhists from Chiang Mai’s Sarapee district to make merit at the Mai Charoen Temple in Wang Nua. The accident occurred while the buses were returning home.

Govt to clarify amnesty draft
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The Interior Ministry will make full use of all the mechanisms at its disposal to clarify issues related to the amnesty bill, Minister Charupong Ruangsuwan said yesterday.

He said he had ordered provincial governors and district chiefs to explain to the people that the amnesty bill is in keeping with democratic principles.

As well, these officials must closely follow news about any anti-government movement and report it to the ministry. Third, they must try to persuade such movements to carry out their protests or other activities within their own provinces instead of mobilising to Bangkok.

The fourth point of Charupong’s order is that provincial and district officials must evaluate the situation in their areas of responsibility and report it regularly.

He denied allegations that force would be used to stop people joining mass rallies that are being mobilised by anti-government groups.

Some of these groups are set to meet this week to plan a massive rally opposing the blanket amnesty bill, which they interpret as potentially benefiting fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

A House of Representatives panel vetting the government’s amnesty bill last Friday voted to rewrite a clause, as proposed by Prayuth Siripanich, committee member from the ruling Pheu Thai Party, to include as beneficiaries people facing legal action in cases stemming from post-coup investigations.

The original draft proposed by Pheu Thai MP Worachai Hema did not grant amnesty to people convicted in criminal cases aside from political protest and did not cover protest leaders or the people who ordered the bloody 2010 crackdown.

Charupong said the new version of the bill would comply with Article 30 of the Constitution that says all people are protected equally under the law.

Drafting a law granting amnesty selectively would therefore be illegal, he claimed.

Meanwhile, giving amnesty would bring reconciliation and allow the country to move forward, he said. Asked to comment clearly on whether the new version of the bill would allow Thaksin to get his seized assets back, Charupong said the amnesty law had nothing to do with that.

Thaksin might ask the court to order the return his assets, but that would be a separate issue.

Democrat MP and legal expert Nipit Intarasombat said the new version of the bill would be against Article 309, the provision of the 2007 Constitution that protects the coup-makers from the consequences of their actions. Therefore, he claimed, it is the legitimate duty of the people to oppose the bill.

National Anti-Corruption Commission member Vicha Mahakhun said yesterday that passage of the new version of the bill would affect the NACC’s investigation of the cases against Abhisit and his deputy Suthep Thaugsuban.

He said the principle of equality should not undermine principle of the rule of law, and no part of the Three Sovereign Powers – the administrative branch, the legislative branch and the judiciary branch – should interfere in the work of another part.

Meanwhile, Uthai Yodmanee, a leader of a rally by the Students’ and People’s Network for Thailand Reform at the Urupong intersection in Bangkok, said many groups had come out to join the gathering.

Body of last Thai victim in Lao Airlines crash found
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The body of a fifth Thai passenger killed in a plane crash in Laos last Wednesday was found in the Mekong River yesterday, according to an official involved in the recovery operation.

The body of Nonthaburi native Nipol Chaichana-kuldee, 27, was discovered by the search-and-rescue team and was expected to be brought back to Thailand today, according to team member Prasop Sarnsamak.

Nipol was among five Thais killed when the Lao Airlines ATR-72 plunged into the Mekong on its approach to Pakse Airport in Champasak. The accident killed all 49 people on board the plane.

The body of the fourth Thai victim to be found, Yanyong Apaanan, 29, a PTT engineer, was taken back to Thailand yesterday.

Local news agency Vientiane Times has reported that according to a senior government official, the main wreckage of the Lao Airlines plane has been recovered but the two “black box” flight recorders have yet to be located.

The fuselage was lifted from the river by floating crane, while divers discovered numerous other pieces of wreckage – but the black boxes were not among them, despite a signal being detected in the area.

The director general of Laos’ Department of Civil Aviation, Yakua Lopangkao told the Vientiane Times that the recovery divers were expected to begin searching for the boxes yesterday.

“If the black box recorders were still attached to the tail then they will be easier to find – but if they broke off [in the crash] then the task will be more difficult,” he said, adding that visibility in the muddy river was so poor that divers could only feel for the devices using their hands and feet.

Northeast floods claim 30 lives
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Thirty people have been killed in floods that have hit four provinces in the Northeast, the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department said yesterday.

Floods have affected more than 1.5 million people living in 86 districts in the lower Northeast region. About 1.6 million rai of farmland has been inundated, according to Piyachart Insawang, acting director of the Nakhon Ratchasima provincial Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department.

In that province, the flood-water level in six districts and sub-districts – Chum Phuang, Chok Chai, Khon Buri, Non Sung, Chalerm Prakiet and Lam Thamainchai – has remained constant, while in Phimai it is forecast to rise.

At the same time, a large amount of run-off from Lamtakong Dam has inundated Nakhon Ratchasima city. At least five low-lying communities close to the river have been severely affected and are under 30-50 centimetres of water. Thousands of residents have left their houses.

The Nakhon Ratchasima Lamtakong Operation and Maintenance Project reported that heavy downpours amid Tropical Storm Nari and monsoon conditions over the pas

— Phuket Gazette Editors

Thailand News

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