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Crashes, plunges and falls take toll of tourists

November 13, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

An alarming spate of deadly mishaps – including a fatal road crash in Thailand that killed four Japanese tourists and a Thai tour guide – took a grim toll of tourists over the past week.

Accidents can happen anywhere but it certainly underscores the need for travel insurance.

The accident in Ayutthaya, Thailand, happened on Thursday when a tourist van from Bangkok, travelling at high speed, slammed straight into the back of a big, 10-wheel truck that had slowed to turn off the highway.

The director-general of Thailand’s Transport Department, Sanith Phromwong, has promised stricter passenger vehicle checks and has assured grieving families that Thai authorities will punish the van driver and his company, RL Service Ltd, if they are found guilty.

Picturesque but precipitous: Ma Pi Leng Mountain pass

The department revoked the licence of the van and ordered RL Service to turn over all 80 of its passenger vans for a safety inspection. As well, all of the company’s drivers have been summoned to take a road safety course, Thailand’s Nation newspaper reported.

The cause of the crash may be simpler than that, however. The Bangkok Post has quoted police saying the 52-year-old driver of the van has confessed to dozing off at the wheel.

The driver, identified as Charun Aksonsri, made the admission while being questioned at Phranakorn Sri Ayutthaya Hospital, where he is being treated for injuries sustained in the crash, the publication reported. The driver said he had slept only four hours before starting work that day. Investigations continue.

MEANWHILE, in other recent accidents, a young American tourist visiting Myanmar on a study trip fell to her death from a temple.

Kassandra Braun, 20, fell six-metres from Wuttanathaw Pagoda while watching the sun set over Bagan. She died on the way to hospital, a statement from Myanmar’s home affairs ministry said.

Authorities acted last year to ban climbing at all but five main temples in the Bagan Archaeological Zone – both for safety reasons and to protect the temples, many of which have suffered earthquake damage.  Wuttanathaw Pagoda is not one of the five authorised temples.

Seven Sisters, Sussex, showing cliff

Other incidents: On Thursday in Vietnam, a Spanish tourist riding a motorbike along the dangerous Ma Pi Leng mountain pass in Vietnam lost control of the machine and plunged 100 metres down a ravine. The man, aged about 40, died instantly. His two companions alerted local authorities who recovered the man’s body and motorbike, reported.

Ma Pi Leng, 20 kilometres in length, connects Ha Giang City in Dong Van District to Meo Vac Town and is considered one of Vietnam’s four most dangerous mountain passes.

In Britain meanwhile, a South Korean international student posing for a photo plunged to her death at Seven Sisters cliffs in Sussex.

Hyewon Kin asked a stranger to take a photo as she jumped in the air near the edge of the cliffs to add dramatic effect. Tragically she slipped and fell 60 metres, local media reported.

Written by Peter Needham

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