Thai police confirmed with Thanh Nien that a bus-truck collision that killed 12 Vietnamese people in northeast of Thailand on Monday happened when the bus driver was falling asleep.
The Thai driver was also killed on the spot, Col. Panas Boonyanyao, chief of police department in Chaiyaphum Province’s Kaeng Kro District, said. The province is some 350 kilometers from Bangkok.
Three other Vietnamese passengers along with the Thai truck driver were seriously injured, he said.
The accident happened in early morning when the bus, which was bound for Nong Bua Lamphu Province that borders Laos, crashed into the 18-wheeled truck that was moving in an opposite direction.
A fire broke out and soon burned down the bus.
Wichai, a Vietnamese-Thai who lives near the accident site, said he heard a big explosion before the fire started, adding that the truck driver rescued the injured Vietnamese passengers.
He also said the truck driver kept honking to warn the bus driver, but the passenger vehicle did not stop.
All the dead victims have been identified and their bodies are now being kept at Khon Kaen Hospital in Khon Kaen Province, awaiting repatriation.
In the meantime, two of the three Vietnamese survivors are recovering, while the other is still in intensive care, Khon Kaen Hospital’s doctors told Thanh Nien.
Boonyanyao said the ill-fated bus was part of a five-vehicle caravan that departed Bangkok on Sunday night for a seminar and youth camp at a church in Nong Bua Lamphu’s Muang district.
The four other buses had already past Chaiyaphum province when the last one, driven by Weerachai Phromsakul, 36, collided with the truck, he said.
According to the Order of Preachers Vietnam, a Catholic religious order, the victims were among 64 of its members who were on their way to the camp.
The Ban Kijjanukhroh Church’s three-day youth camp is an annual event for 120 Thai and Vietnamese students from Bangkok, Khon Kaen, Udon Thani and Sakhon Nakhon. This year’s event was cancelled following the tragedy, Phuket Gazette reported Tuesday.