At least 13 people have been killed after a boat capsized in a river north of the Thai capital Bangkok, agencies report.The vessel had more than 100 on board as it sailed along the Chao Phraya river in Ayutthaya province, 50 miles from the city, on Sunday afternoon.
As many as 37 people were injured and many more are missing as rescuers battle rain and, later, darkness. No foreigners are believed to be among the dead. Police Colonel Surapong Thampitak said the passengers were Thai Muslims travelling to a religious ceremony when it capsized.
Udomsak Khaonoona, disaster prevention chief for the city of Ayutthaya, said: “The boat tried to avoid another vessel and crashed into the concrete column of a bridge.” ThaiPBS quoted Harbour Department official Surasak Sansombat as saying the boat was only meant for 50 people and that it probably collapsed because it was overloaded.
Despite being one of the region’s more wealthy countries, Thailand’s public transport has a poor safety record. It has one of world’s worst fatality rates on the roads and speedboats regularly crashing between the south’s tourist islands.
The Chao Phraya is the main river through Bangkok and a busy commuting artery where boats often travel along at high speed. None of this seems to deter tourists, however, with the junta leaders saying they expect tourism to make up 17% of the country’s GDP this year.,