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A 50-year-old Thai woman has died and 12 people have been injured after a bus travelling from Phuket to Satun, on the Malaysian border, caught fire in Phang Nga province, just north of the island, on Wednesday.
Police and rescue workers were called to the scene, near Takua Thung Police Station, at 10:18am.
The bus left Phuket at about 9am and apparently stopped at Songpon Steel workshop in Takua Thung for minor welding repairs to a broken seat near the front of the bus, Takua Thung Police told The Phuket News.
The welding was carried out while all 21 passengers, Thai and foreign, were still onboard.
Local residents who rushed to help smashed bus windows to help the trapped passengers to escape.
Three people collapsed inside the bus, but were quickly recovered by people at the scene.
However, a 50-year-old Thai woman whose name has yet to be released, could not be revived. She was later pronounced dead on arrival at Phang Nga Hospital
Twelve other passengers – two men and 10 women, including one 15-year-old girl – were taken to Phang Nga Hospital for treatment of injuries sustained in escaping the blaze. Two of the injured were from Phuket.
Five remain in intensive care.
“Charges have yet to be filed and we have yet to independently confirm the cause of the fire,” one officer from Takua Thung Police told The Phuket News.
“The bus is owned and operated by Trang Ruammit Co Ltd. We are still questioning the driver and the owner of the Songpon Steel workshop about the incident.
“The bus driver said that while the seat was being welded, they forgot to disconnect the power cables from the battery, which caused a short circuit,” the officer said.