Saturday, October 22, 2011

1 Dead, 20 Injured as Bus Plunges Off Road in Phuket

Although details are sketchy, one Chinese tourist is dead and at least 20 others have been injured, some seriously, after a bus plunged into the jungle off a dangerous hill road in southern Phuket earlier today (October 22). A second bus, with its driver defying an order not to use the road, caused further problems as first responders were evacuating injured passengers from the first bus.
The crash took place about 0830 on the road between Karon and Chalong Circle, a notoriously dangerous steep road. Unfortunately, widening of the road has permitted traffic to take tricky corners even faster.

It is believed that the first bus picked up Chinese tourists from Karon and was taking them across to the eastern side of Phuket. More than 20 injured tourists and two Thais, one a driver and the other a guide, were taken to the large public Vachira Phuket Hospital and two private hospitals, Phuket International Hospital and Bangkok Hospital Phuket, in Phuket City.

A large mobile crane was being used to recover the bus that left the roadway from the jungle. It finally stopped careening about 40 meters off the road, and was stopped by clustered trees. One victim, a woman, is believed to have been killed in the crash. The driver has disappeared.

COMMENT: A bus crash in March on Phuket's other steep and dangerous road, across Patong Hill, killed one person and injured scores of others.

For those of you who regularly read my postings know full well my concern about bus travel in developing countries where drivers often are fatigued, poorly trained and paid a pittance.
Although I fully understand that tourists traveling together want to be together, in the interest of safely, and particularly on Phuket, where so many of the roads are over-used and poorly maintained, tour organizers should insist that operators use smaller buses whenever possible, even if it adds to the overall cost of the tour package for each traveler, unless of course, they have little concern for being around for a future trip.

Travelers should also be mindful that belief systems are much different in Asia, where fatalism is rooted in Buddhist life. That is, many Asian firmly believe that how long we are here on Earth is preordained, and that behavior modification has very little to do with when it is our time, which is why many Thai drivers show little concern for safety. Unfortunately, their driving habits very often prove them wrong in their fatalistic beliefs.

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