AYUTTHAYA — Two people will be indicted Thursday for a ferry accident that killed 28 people in Ayutthaya province, police said.
Boat owner Sunthorn Pansueathong and operator Wirat Chaisirikul face separate counts relating to the Sept. 18 incident in which a boat carrying religious pilgrims foundered after striking an embankment along the Chao Phraya River while returning from a mosque.
“We’re waiting to indict them in two days,” Maj. Thanat Saeng-arun of Ayutthaya City Police Station said Tuesday.
Sunthorn owned the boat rented by a Muslim group in Nonthaburi for travel to an annual religious get together at the mosque in Ayutthaya. The boat, captained by Wirat, hit a berm at high speed and sank. Twenty-eight people died, including children.
Police said the boat was overloaded at double its capacity.
Sunthorn is charged with a fatal negligence and overloading of passengers. Wirat’s charges include operating a boat with an expired license and fatal recklessness in his operation of the vessel.
The boat owner has denied the charges while the captain will enter a guilty plea, Maj. Thanat said.
In the aftermath of the deadly accident it also emerged that Sunthorn’s license to own the ferry boat was somehow renewed without valid insurance as required under the law. Sunthorn told reporters he paid for the insurance and accused port officials of pocketing the fees. The Marine Department said it would investigate the matter in late September.
Department director Sorasak Saensombat said Tuesday he was too busy to answer questions. His office referred a reporter to deputy director Nat Chubchai. He was out of the office and could not be reached, his assistant said.