Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Chaiyaphum crash victims pose ID challenge; Charred bodies prove beyond recognition

Forensic experts are stepping up efforts to identify the charred bodies of 12 Vietnamese nationals killed in Monday's road accident in Chaiyaphum province, after visual identification proved futile.

The bodies of the victims have been transferred from Kaeng Khro Hospital in Chaiyaphum to Khon Kaen University's Srinagarind Hospital for identification.

But forensic expert Viruj Khunkitti said all of the bodies had been burned beyond recognition, making it difficult for doctors to even identify their gender.

Identification documents such as passports and other necessary documents were all burned, meaning forensic evidence and accounts from relatives would have to be used to identify the dead, Dr Viruj said.

The 12 Vietnamese nationals and their Thai driver were killed and four others injured when the passenger van they were travelling in collided with an 18-wheel truck in Chaiyaphum on Monday morning.

Authorities have the names of all those on board, but have been unable to match them to the individual bodies.

The van veered into the wrong lane and smashed into the truck loaded with cassava. Both vehicles overturned and the van burst into flames. Thirteen people were trapped inside the burning vehicle.

The van had been hired to take a group of Vietnamese Catholics from Bangkok to Nong Bua Lam Phu province for a church activity. Police believe the van driver fell asleep at the wheel.

Dr Viruj said eight of the dead were believed to have died from injuries sustained in the crash, while at least two had died from smoke inhalation.

Relatives and friends of the victims arrived at the hospital yesterday to view the bodies, but were unable to identify them.

In one case, relatives told the hospital that a 25-year-old man who was among the passengers often wore a wristband. It was found that one of the bodies had a blue and yellow wristband which had survived the flames.

So far, only some of the relatives had given specific information about the victims, Dr Viruj said.

Forensic examinations would have to be conducted and there must be confirmation from police handling the case before the bodies of the victims are released to their families. DNA tests would be conducted if relatives were unable to identify their loved ones.

A source said relatives of van driver Veerachai Promsakul had gone to the hospital to pick up his body for funeral rites. They told the hospital that Veerachai, 35, a native of Phatthalung, often wore a silver ring studded with a yellow gem on his ring finger.

In Nong Bua Lam Phu, Thai and Vietnamese Catholics laid wreaths in front of Akkhara Thewada church in Muang district and performed prayers for the victims, who were on their way to the church when the crash occurred.

Church training coordinator Pornpan Inthisenpho said the church has so far managed to contact relatives of 10 of the victims.

A source said one of the surviving Vietnamese passengers being treated at Chaiyaphum Hospital could be discharged within five days after undergoing surgery.

Ngian Huming, 20, was admitted on Monday with two broken legs.

He was among three Vietnamese passengers who survived the road accident. The two others were being treated at Khon Kaen Hospital.

Trailer truck driver Prayuth Leesui sustained minor injuries.

Wednesday 04 June 2014


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