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Thailand News Today | Bangkok protests, Special Tourist Visa, Prisoners slippery escape | October 16

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Thailand news on The Thaiger. Posted daily around 5pm, Thai Time. Hosted by Tim Newton.

Train-car collision kills 1, second fatal railway crossing incident this week

A passenger train collided with a car, killing a woman and injuring 2 others at a railway crossing in Phetchaburi’s Khao Yai district last night.

At last night’s incident, police found the Toyota Vios crushed against beams under a bridge, still under construction. A 21 year old was found dead in the car. The 39 year old driver and a 33 year old passenger were OK but trapped inside the wreckage.

They were finally rescued and sent to hospital.

Police are investigating to determine the cause of the incident, but say the crossing was unguarded.

Just earlier this week, a freight train smashed into a charter bus, killing 18 bus passengers and injuring another 44 at a crossing in Chachoengsao, just east of Bangkok.

Bangkok city intersection closed and secured ahead of next rally at 5pm

Police have closed Bangkok’s Ratchaprasong Intersection and Ratchadamri Roads from now, just hours before the next round of anti-government protests were scheduled to begin at 5pm. Ratchadamri Road is being closed all the way to the Pratunam intersection. The closure, on a Friday afternoon, provides the city an additional traffic headache.

Early yesterday morning a State of Emergency was enacted giving police special powers to arrest gatherings of more than 5 and clear “areas” at their discretion. The new edict also gives authorities the power to shut down dissenting media and arrest people making comments “that could affect national security”.

Police allowed a gathering to assemble last night after it was apparent the numbers were swelling way beyond expectations, mostly made up of school and university students, that reached 15,000+

Meanwhile, contractors who provided PA and sound services for last night’s gathering in Bangkok’s shopping district, have been arrested. Thai Lawyers for Human Rights report that 6 of the crew have been formerly arrested.

There will no doubt be some sort of confrontation this evening, or an attempt to move the protest site. We’ll keep you up to date with all the latest information at thethaiger.com

Cabinet confirms state of emergency, curfew if protests escalate

The Thai cabinet met today to formally approve yesterday’s state of emergency.

After the meeting the Thai PM told the media that a curfew banning people from leaving home at night might have to be imposed if the situation escalated. He insisted the situation did not warrant the declaration of martial law.

Now they’re coming… Special Tourist Visa flight next Tuesday

In the latest Special Tourist Visa news, it looks like there could be a flight of successful applicants coming next Tuesday. But we’ll get more excited when the plane actually arrives.

After much confusion and a few apparent ‘misunderstandings’, Chinese tourists on the Special Tourist Visa will actually arrive on October 20 and 26. The announcement from the Tourism and Sports Minister and reported in the Bangkok Post. The first group is said to arrive in Bangkok.

The first group of 120 tourists from Guangzhou will arrive at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airpor. Another group of 120 tourists, also from Guangzhou, will arrive on October 26.

Since the Special Tourist Visa was enacted not a single passenger has arrived on Thai soil as a result of applying for the new visa which entitles applicants to 90 day stays, kick started by a 14 day quarantine period. The 90 days can be renewed twice.

Inmates escape from Thai prison using soap to rust the cell bars

2 Turkish inmates escaped from a Thailand prison in a daring, if not slippery, escape.

Their main tool? Soap. They used soap to cover the bars of their cell in the Tak’s Mae Sot district. Over time, the soap caused the metal to rust and they were able to break the cell bars. Apparently, this isn’t their first cunning escape to ‘slip’ away from prison.

The 41 and 29 year olds were arrested on charges of entering Thailand illegally and were first incarcerated at the Nong Khai Immigration Police Prison near the Thai-Laos border. The men escaped the prison earlier this year and were missing for 21 days.

They were found and sent to a prison in Mae Sot. There they crafted their cunning escape. At this stage they’re on the loose and police suspect they will try and slip over the nearby Burmese border.

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Road deaths

1st day of Songkran road safety campaign – 356 injuries, 25 deaths

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1st day of Songkran road safety campaign – 356 injuries, 25 deaths | Thaiger
PHOTO: Thailand's notorious traffic and hazardous road conditions

The Songkran road safety campaign is off to a moderate start with a reported 25 deaths and 356 injuries across Thailand on Saturday. The Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department director-general reports that there were 348 road accidents in the country on the first day of the campaign.

Though the figures don’t sound like an achievement, they are actually a fair bit lower than the average road death toll each day in Thailand throughout the year. Officials say that the real rush back home for the annual holiday will probably be tomorrow.

About 83% of the accidents involved motorbikes, 7.5% involved pick-up trucks and 4% were with cars. The biggest percentage of incidents happened between 4 and 8 pm, with 28% of accidents occurring in the late afternoon and early evening. Around 20% of crashes were between 8 am and noon, and 17% between noon and 4 pm.

Speeding is the number one cause of traffic accidents, with 32% of incidents a result of people driving too fast. Sudden lane switches, regardless of speed, contributed to about 20% of crashes. Alcohol was another major contributing factor, with intoxicated drivers involved in 23% of accidents that were attributed to drink-driving.

Bangkok, Chon Buri and Chiang Mai saw 2 fatalities on the roads of each province, while Phatthalung province in Southern Thailand had 22 injuries from 20 traffic accidents, the most in any province in Thailand.

As part of the Songkran road safety campaign, 342,000 cars, trucks and motorbikes were stopped and inspected by over 60,000 officials across Thailand yesterday. There are 1.913 main road checkpoints set up throughout the entire country. More than 58,000 citations were handed out to drivers for many different infractions, notably over 16,000 drivers were caught without a license and nearly 15,000 people were violating Thailand’s helmet laws by riding without one.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Road deaths

Thailand road accidents cost 500 billion baht per year

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Thailand road accidents cost 500 billion baht per year | Thaiger
PHOTO: Thailand - the most dangerous roads in Asia?

Thailand is notorious for its road and driving conditions, and a disproportionate number of driving accidents. The World Health Organisation now reports that road accidents cost an estimated 500 billion baht in 2019 alone. The WHO report placed Thailand as the number one country in ASEAN with a 32.7 per cent death rate, the highest in Southeast Asia. The Road Accident Victims Protection Co explains that the WHO calculates the financial damages of driving deaths in different countries around the world. Thailand’s 500 billion baht loss amounts to about 3 per cent of the country’s entire 2019 gross domestic product of 16.87 trillion baht.

By analyzing statistics and making projections about road deaths from 2021 to 2027, the estimates during the next 6 years that Thailand is facing an average of about 15,400 deaths per year in the best case, and looking a worst case scenario of over 18,600 deaths per year in traffic accidents. Adding an extra depressing edge to this gruesome statistic, the report shows that nearly 40% of those killed in traffic accidents are the heads of households. With the loss of the family head, an average of 2.43 people per death lose the support of their primary family earner, putting them in peril. The death of younger household leaders, and other untimely and unnatural deaths also may contribute in the longterm to a disparity in an aging population.

2020 saw a strong drop in road accidents and deaths, from 22,000 in 2019 to just under 18,000 fatalities, though this drop is mainly due to the national lockdown in April and general decrease in travel due to the Covid-19 pandemic. If Covid-19 improves in the coming month and the country springs back to life, the number of deaths are likely to spring back as well. Estimates show that road fatalities could return to 19,000-20,000 in all of 2021, which is about 1 death every 26 minutes. Worldwide about 317,000 people die in driving accidents every year, or about 1 every 23 seconds.

SOURCE: The Nation Thailand

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Songkran

Songkran activities cancelled in Ayutthaya due to Covid-19

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Songkran activities cancelled in Ayutthaya due to Covid-19 | Thaiger
PHOTO: Ayutthaya traditionally has elaborate Songkran celebrations

After the recent outbreak of Covid-19 across Thailand, in a large part due to entertainment activities, Thailand’s former capital city of Ayutthaya has now officially cancelled all Songkran festival activities for the upcoming holiday. All events previously planned to mark the Thai New Year’s holiday between April 13 and 15 have now been called off. An urgent declaration by the provincial governor today informed the public of the decision. Many people across the country are cancelling Songkran events or any observance of the holiday at all.

The decision by the province’s Songkran committee and the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Ayutthaya office was directed especially at tourists who may be planning to travel to the area for traditional festivities. Complex and ornate events had been planned, scheduled to be held on Si Sanphet road, with the sudden cancellation announcement abruptly ending the preparations for holiday merriment.

TAT and the local government agreed that the cancellation was necessary to prevent the possible spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, especially in light of the current outbreak across Thailand. In Ayutthaya, 86 people have been infected with 21 new cases diagnosed yesterday. In an effort to slow the spread of Covid-19, the Ayutthaya Hospital issued a statement limiting visits for hospital patients. The hospital encourages people to do video calls with their relatives as the hospital will only allow one relative to spend time with each patient. This overall situation led to the official decision to call off all Songkran festivities.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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