Burmese killed in Thai road accident

Five Burmese migrants were among six people killed when a truck they were riding in collided with a passenger bus in southern Thailand’s Phuket province.

Some 24 Burmese migrants were crammed into the truck, which was returning on Sunday last week from a pilgrimage to a Buddha statue on the popular tourist island.

The five died on the spot, while the remaining 19 sustained injuries and were sent to Vichira hospital in Phuket. The truck driver, a Thai national, also died at the hospital.

“Most of the migrants were Mon ethnics working in construction. Five of them died. Current there are two women and one man at the hospital,” said U Nwe, a Burmese national in Phuket.

Thai news reports said one child was among the dead, but did not give the age. A lawyer at the Thailand-based Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF) said the compensation will be decided under the Thai law after an investigation is done by police.

“It was a traffic accident that took place outside of their work so the compensation will have to be paid by an accident insurance company. The court will decide the case based on findings in the police investigation,” he said.

“If it turns out that the accident took place due to the poor quality of the road, then the companies and [government] departments responsible for building the road will be fined.”

Ma Zar, a Burmese coordinator at HRDF in Mahachai in southern Thailand, said Thai hospitals usually provide free medical care for [Burmese migrant] victims of traffic accidents.

Nine Burmese migrants died last month after a truck they were riding in was hit by a ten-wheeled lorry in Mahachai, near Bangkok. Nearly 50 were injured, 32 of which were hospitalised.

More than three million Burmese migrants are estimated to live in Thailand, the majority working in low-skilled industries such as fishing and construction where accidents are common. The quasi-legal status many of them hold means they often struggle to claim compensation.

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