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KANCHANABURI, Thailand, August 10 (Itar-Tass) - The driver of the coach with Russian tourists was using a cell phone when the vehicle crashed in Thailand.
“Right before the accident the driver was doing something with the phone: either he was writing a message or calling someone,” one of the tourists, Viktor Shapoval, told ITAR-TASS on Saturday, August 10, adding that the coach had no safety belts.
Viktor, his wife and son had come to Thailand from Novokuznetsk, Southern Siberia, on their first trip and ended up in hospital. Viktor had broken his arm, his wife and son had got bruised and injured.
Five Russian tourists from Novokuznetsk and Vladivostok remain in hospital in the Kanchanaburi province. Each is staying in a separate room under constant medical supervision. “The mayor of Kanchanaburi came over here today, he asked if everything was okay and if we needed something,” Viktor Shapoval said.
The coach with the Russian tourists crashed 120 km from Bangkok in the Kanchanaburi province on Friday, August 9. It was carrying 43 Russian tourists and a guide on an excursion from Pattaya to the River Kwai. A heavy rain came down in torrents some three hours after Bangkok. The bus was going at a speed of 90 to 100 km/h. I do not know what happened but it turned to its side and rammed a tree. Then shattered glass poured down. After that I remember people being carried out of the bus through its windows,” Viktor’s son, Alexander, recalled. He got bruised and skin on his head lacerated.
The guide stayed with the tourists in hospital after the accident. “I was sitting next to the driver and can say for sure that he was not dosing as newspapers wrote. We were talking all the time,” Chavisa Rordbut of the travel company Discovery Tour, which had organised the excursion, told ITAR-TASS.
She insisted that the driver had not used the phone before the accident and that the coach was not in proper working order. “We careened to the left and the steering wheel got stuck. Doctors say that the Shapovals would be able to go home in several days. But there is also a woman and her daughter here with minor injuries and they, too, will go home soon. A woman tourist from Vladivostok is a more serious case: she has several bone fractures and internal organ injuries. She is the only one who is bedridden right now,” the guide said, adding that the Russian tourists’ heath insurance should be enough to cover all medical expenses.
“As of August 10, five injured persons - four women and one man - remain in hospital, their condition is ‘satisfactory’,” the Federal Agency for Tourism (Rostourism) agency confirmed earlier in the day.
It said that all the tourists who were travelling in the crashed coach had bought the tour from a street vendor in Thailand.
Twenty-eight injured tourists were taken to the nearest hospitals where they received medical attention. The coach driver blamed the accident on steering failure.
Rostourism is monitoring the situation and maintaining contact with the Russian diplomatic missions in Thailand, the Emergencies Ministry and tour operators.
The Russian Embassy in Bangkok is monitoring assistance to the Russian citizens injured in the road accident in Thailand and its investigation, the Foreign Ministry said.
The accident occurred on August 9 in the Kanchanaburi province about 120 kilometres west of Bangkok. “The coach skidded on a slippery road and fell on its side, continuing to slide along for several more metres,” Andrei Dvornikov, head of the consular section at the Russian Embassy in Thailand, said earlier in the day.
The Russian Foreign Ministry also confirmed that Russian tourists with minor and moderate injuries were promptly taken to the local hospital Kanchanaburi Memorial. “All of them received timely medical attention. There were no casualties. Five persons remain in hospital,” it added.
Irina Tyurina, Spokesperson for the Russian Union of Tourism Industry, said earlier in the day that the operator that had sent the Russian tourists to Thailand had not been determined yet. “We only know that the tourists are from Siberia. That’s all the information we have at the moment,” she said.