Update: The death toll rose to 19 as of Monday afternoon.
CHACHOENGSAO — Police said Monday that a bus collision with a train that killed 19 people yesterday was likely the fault of the bus driver.
A cargo train smashed into the bus carrying 65 people near Khlong Kwaeng Klan station after the bus drove onto the rail tracks in the rain on Sunday morning. The train crossing did not have any gates or signal crossings. The collision left at least 18 people dead, including the driver, Boonsong Suanyim, 54. Thirty five people were also injured.
“From our investigation we believe it was the negligence of one of the vehicle operators, likely the bus driver,” Commander of Chachoengsao provincial police Col. Tarathep Tupanich said by phone Monday.
Tarathep said an investigation is ongoing into whether charges will be pressed against the bus company. Taratep said the train operator, Weerawat Worawong, had sounded their air horn from 400 meters away and tried to stop the train, which weighed more than 2,000 tons.
Some media reports quote investigators and witnesses as saying that Boonsong did not hear or see the train coming.
There are no signal crossings or even staff at Khlong Kwaeng Klan station where the deadly incident took place, though Tarathep said the provincial government would install train crossing gates there.
“It’s an abandoned station that people sometimes get off at,” Tarathep said of the train station.
The passengers include Thai and Myanmar workers from a plastic bottle factory in Samrong district, Samut Prakan, who were headed to Wat Bang Pla Nak in Chachoengsao for a tod kathin merit-making ceremony.
Of the 19 dead, 6 were Burmese. The injured were sent to nearby hospitals.