Curbs fail to dampen Songkran fun

Curbs fail to dampen Songkran fun

Silom, Khao San Road and Central World are still among the main places to celebrate Songkran starting from Thursday.

Meanwhile, on the highways, 33 people died and 420 injured in traffic accidents on Tuesday, the first day of the seven-day campaign to reduce the road toll during the Songkran holiday.

A long section of Silom Road will be a water-splashing zone from noon to 8pm Thursday until Saturday, but alcohol, talcum powder and high-pressure water guns are prohibited. Wanlop Suwandee, chief adviser to the city governor, said Wednesday the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) had not organised any entertainment to celebrate Songkran on Silom Road this year, because the nation is still mourning the passing of His Majesty the Late King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Business in the area had cooperated by not allowing stages to be set up in front of their premises, shows or other activities unsuitable for the mourning period. However, revellers were still expected to flock to Silom Road during the festival to splash water, as in previous years. The BMA had contacted police and the military about improving security.

An 850-metre section of Silom Road, from Sala Daeng intersection to Naralom intersection, will be closed to vehicles to allow water-splashing from noon to 8pm from Thursday to April 15, Mr Wanlop said. Alcohol, powder and high-pressure water guns are banned. Checkpoints will be set up around the venue and water trucks and vehicles with loud music will not be allowed to enter Silom Road during this period, he said.

Similar rules will also apply to other areas famous for the water festival including Khao San Road. The celebration there will start with merit-making (alms presenting to monks) early in the morning and the water festival will run only from 2pm until 8pm Thursday and Friday.

At Central World, revellers can expect a three-day carnival-style event, “M2F Presents Bangkok Songkran Festival 2017”, including amusement park rides and game booths, a cultural show and mini concert. In Khon Kaen, the Songkran festival on Khao Niaw Road (Sri Chan Road) will run from Thursday until Saturday.

In Chiang Mai and northern provinces, the towns have been decorated with Lanna-style flags welcoming the festival. Meanwhile, thousands of Malaysians and Singaporeans have come to enjoy the festival in tourism areas including Hat Yai district of Songkhla, Betong district of Yala, Koh Samui of Surat Thani and the islands in Phuket.

Useful hotline numbers during the holiday period include 191 in case of emergencies, 1669 for the Emergency Medical Service, 1646 for the Emergency Medical Service in Bangkok, 1196 in case of marine accidents, 1197 for traffic police, 1193 for highway police and 1155 for tourism police.

In Bangkok, vehicles are prohibited from entering the following areas during the hours of 12pm and 12am until Saturday: Khao San Road, Chakrabongse Road, Bowon Niwet Road, Sip Sam Hang Road, Tanao Road starting from Khok Wua intersection to Wong Wian Sip Sam Hang, Silom Road starting from Sala Daeng intersection to Naralom intersection.

Songkran revellers in Ayutthaya find out the wet way the First Rule of Songkran: Never water-fight an elephant. (Photo by Patipat Janthong)

According to the National Council for Peace and Order’s (NCPO) civil affairs office, in addition to the 33 killed, another 420 were injured in traffic accidents on Tuesday.

Lt Gen Thanes Kalpruek, head of the NCPO’s civil affairs office, said there were 409 road accidents reported nationwide on Tuesday resulting in 33 deaths and 420 injuries, he said.

On the first day of the campaign last year there were 387 accidents, 52 deaths and 431 injuries, according to official figures.

Drink-driving was responsible for the greatest number of accidents on Tuesday, at 45.4%, followed by speeding, at 24.9%.

As usual, most accidents, 77.8%, involved motorcycles.

Chiang Mai recorded the highest number of accidents, with 18. The provinces with the highest death tolls, four each, were Ubon Ratchathani and Nakhon Ratchasima.

The largest number of injuries, 17, were in Chiang Rai.

The government has set up 2,025 checkpoints, manned by 63,299 officials, along major highways.

On Tuesday, more than 603,400 vehicles were checked, while a total of 93,564 drivers were slapped with tickets for various traffic-related offences. More than 27,000 were caught driving without a licence and nearly 26,500 were nabbed for not wearing crash helmets, Lt Gen Thanes said.

In Ayutthaya, two people were killed and a third critically hurt when a car and a lorry loaded with sand collided in Nakhon Luang district Wednesday.

The accident occurred near the Chai Rang intersection on Nakhon Luang-Phachi Road in tambon Ban Chung, said Pol Capt Rung Panya, a deputy chief investigator at Nakhon Luang.

The collision was reported about 10am. Police and rescue workers found the entangled wreckage of a 22-wheel trailer truck and a Nissan sedan in an irrigation canal.

Police said the lorry was travelling on the main road when the car, a Nissan sedan, emerged from a secondary road and cut in front of it at a bridge spanning an irrigation canal near the intersection.

The two vehicles collided and plunged into the canal.

The two people in the car died at the scene. The driver was not identified, while the passenger was named as Thitiporn Yommana, 42, of Ayutthaya.

The lorry driver, Cholathee Pianpalad, 40, of Saraburi, was seriously hurt and taken to a nearby hospital. Residents said the junction is known as the “100 corpses’’ intersection.