Six elderly Thais were killed in a collision with a soldier’s pickup truck in Buriram province, northeast Thailand, this morning. The soldier – the only person to survive the crash – was carrying 257 sleeves of illegal cigarettes which he attempted to hide in the woods nearby.
Six elderly Thais dressed in traditional outfits were on their way to set up a shrine in a Toyota pickup truck with a Khon Kaen registration when they collided with an Isuzu D-Max pickup truck driven by 29 year old Sgt. Peerapong, a soldier under Suranaree Camp in Korat, along the Chokhai – Detch Udom Highway 24.
Four elderly women and one elderly man died at the scene and the sixth victim, an elderly man, was seriously injured and later passed away at the hospital.
The deceased include 83 year old Lamai Ruangmanee, 76 year old Thongarb Chuangchai, 56 year old Uthuan Suriyayen, 56 year old Bonting Kulnara, 67 year old Uthai Losuwan, and 52 year old Chong Khaopow.
A friend of the victims, 75 year old Prathuan, said one of the deceased was a folk healer. The group was on their way to set up a shrine, he said. After that, they planned on visiting Prathuan’s sick wife but never arrived.
The soldier said he was driving in the right lane on the way home to Korat from Ubon Ratchathani when he suddenly lost control and crashed. He said he doesn’t know who crashed into who.
Officers from Chaloem Phrakiat Police Station returned to the site of the accident to find a large number of illegal cigarettes smuggled from abroad hidden in the woods. The police invited excise officials from Prakhon Chai to inspect the cigarettes.
Excise counted 2,570 packets of illegal cigarettes from abroad, or 257 sleeves, hidden in the woods. The cigarettes matched with cigarettes found under the wreckage of the soldier’s pickup.
Sgt. Peerapong, the only survivor, will undergo interrogation after being treated at a hospital for his minor injuries.
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