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Ferry driver charged, river crash toll rises to 18

Ferry driver charged, river crash toll rises to 18

AYUTTHAYA: Another three bodies were found after the search resumed at dawn today (Sept 29) for 10 people still missing from a ferry that hit a bridge pillar and sank in the Chao Phraya River in Ayutthaya province yesterday (Sept 18).

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By Bangkok Post

Monday 19 September 2016, 02:42PM


Boat driver Virat Chaisirikul, 67, denies he acted carelessly and caused the fatal ferry crash and sinking. Photo: Sunthon Pongpao

Boat driver Virat Chaisirikul, 67, denies he acted carelessly and caused the fatal ferry crash and sinking. Photo: Sunthon Pongpao

The sad find raised the confirmed death toll to 18.

Col Napol Kladkhemphet, deputy commander of Ayutthaya police, also said the 67-year-old boat helmsman, Virat Chaisirikul, had been detained for questioning and then charged with recklessly driving the boat and causing deaths.

He was also charged with carrying more passengers than the boat was permitted to carry. It was licenced for 50 passengers, but there were around 150 on board. His boat driving licence had also expired.

He was being held pending further questioning and denied police bail at this point.

Mr Virat denied he had been careless. He was overtaking a sand barge on his right at a curve in the river and a wave hit his boat’s tail, knocking it off course and causing it to hit the embankment at Wat Sanam Chai.

He also said he had been unable to prevent the passengers boarding the boat.

“The number of passengers was just overwhelming, I was unable to stop them,” he said.

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Col Napol said the vessel’s owner, Sunthorn Phansuethong, had contacted the police and he would be questioned later.

He would also be charged with carelessness causing death.

Police would work with the Marine Department in investigating whether the boat had been operating legally, met safety requirements and carried sufficient life-saving equipment.

Ayutthaya Governor Prayoon Rattanasenee said earlier today that 46 other passengers were injured, of whom 10 were in critical condition. The three extra bodies were found later.

Mr Prayoon said the capsized boat was not from Ayutthaya so the driver was not familiar with the river channel, which was a factor in the incident.

Read original story here.

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Joe12 | 20 September 2016 - 13:53:41

SFM...excellent comment that considers all points, especially... "Do we demand that the representative we vote for will change matters? Most of us don't and so we share quite a bit of the responsibility if something goes wrong." This seems to be the crux of the problem with commentators here which is amply demonstrated in their comments. They pay "lip service" ie just say s...

Kurt | 20 September 2016 - 09:17:47

The boat WAS licensed until last March! Since then expired.
The 'driver' was not licensed.
The boat was not licensed.
The boat company was not licensed.

A great example of 'law enforcement'. Yes?

Christy Sweet | 20 September 2016 - 07:45:21

Bkk Post is reporting this boat was built in 1967, might that be a factor in this tragedy? Overload a 50 year old vessel by 300 %. Agree the Captain should have refused to leave the pier, of course that would have been considered rude and in Thai-land, politeness trumps common sense and responsibility. 

SFM | 20 September 2016 - 01:40:14

Hi Seaturtle

Employed helmsmen do not have a choice of limiting the passengers.
Counting and rejecting clients with referral to some piece of paper would get them fired right away. It is unheard of.

The problem is very similar to the tragedies where a bar is overfilled, way over what is allowed, and the fire exits are not clearly marked or working.

When something goes wrong it is time to...

Asterix | 19 September 2016 - 20:25:30

Criminal charge against the boat helmsman after the deadly boat accident is too late to avoid a tragedy.
The best would be to revamp the way the captain licences are issued and it would be more beneficial on long term.
In the Andaman Sea, there are not a Marine Training Center to train the thousands of captains and helmsmen and most of them are unable to read a chart of understand navigational b...

Kurt | 19 September 2016 - 18:50:13

Yes Seaturtle55, and not only that!
He, the driver, was also not familiar with the river channel!
That is in the maritime world a 'death sin'!
Good seamanship than requires you take a ships river pilot!
Unbelievable, but well, TIT!

And 67 years old? According his own statement that he was not able to stand firm  for good seamanship and not allowed more than 50 people on board proves...

Seaturtle55 | 19 September 2016 - 17:50:06

I don't know anything about whether his helmsmen-ship skills were or were not lacking....but "His boat driving licence had also expired" and vessel "was licenced for 50 passengers, but there were around 150 on board" and he gives the excuse "The number of passengers was just overwhelming, I was unable to stop them"??? How about, Khun Virat, refusing to depart unti...

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