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At least twenty seven people are dead and more than twenty others were left injured when a bus careered off hillside road in northern Thailand yesterday. Police Captain Sittichai Panyasong of the Mae Tho district in Tak said those who had been hurt were severely injured.
The bus, that was travelling in Tak, which borders Myanmar, was taking local government workers out for a field trip. As the bus travelled down the hill the brakes failed causing it to crash through a concrete barrier and plunge 150 meters in to a ravine.
A spokeswoman at a local hospital, who declining to be named, confirmed the death toll at 27, adding more than 20 were injured and that she too believed there were children on board, but could not say if any were among the dead.
Thailand’s roads are among the most dangerous in the world.
A recent report by the World Health Organization said Thailand saw 38.1 road deaths per 100,000 people in 2010—behind only the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean and the South Pacific island of Niue.
That compares with an average of 18.5 per 100,000 in Southeast Asia as a whole.
At least 13 school children died last month when their bus collided with a lorry on trip to the seaside south of Bangkok.
The students, aged around 10 to 14 years old, were heading to the resort city of Pattaya from the northeastern province of Nakhon Ratchasima.
Officials say roughly 60 percent of traffic accidents in Thailand are caused by human error, with poor road and vehicle conditions posing additional hazards.
Alcohol also plays a significant role, particularly around national holidays including the Thai new year holiday of Songkran in mid-April, when millions of revelers return to their homes across the country.
Those who cannot afford to fly have little choice but to use the roads in country where the rail infrastructure remains weak.
Hundreds die on the roads every Songkran, despite nationwide campaigns to prevent drunk driving. Bus operators are required to provide seat belts but passengers are not legally obliged to use them. In December dozens of people were killed when a bus carrying New Year travelers plunged off one of Thailand’s highest bridges in the kingdom’s northeast. At least 20 people were killed in October when a tour bus carrying elderly Buddhist devotees fell into a ravine, also in the northeast.