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A child in detention at the Ranong centre

Double Tragedy as Hell Trip Survivors Head Home

Monday, May 19, 2008
MOST of the survivors of the container truck tragedy in which 54 people suffocated on the road to Phuket were sent home to Burma on May 19.

Some will face fresh tragedy from Cyclone Nargis.

Phuketwan understands that many of the 66 Burmese survivors, who have been held first in jail then a detention centre since April 9, come from villages severely damaged by the ferocious cyclone that has killed more than 60,000 people.

Most of them will be going back to Burma without knowing whether their families and friends are alive or dead.

Ten survivors are being held by authorities in Ranong, a busy port on the border with Burma, pending the trial of six people charged over the nightmare ride

Those being held are two women, four men and four children, three girls, two aged 17 and one 13, and one boy aged 15.

The six charged include the owner of the container truck, the driver, his co-driver, the captain of a boat that allegedly carried the Burmese, and a cook.

The remaining survivors were delivered to the Burmese authorities in Victoria Point, across from Ranong, on the afternoon of May 19.

A relative of one survivor told Phuketwan that many of the people in the container truck were from a village just south of Rangoon, which was in the path of the cyclone and severely battered.

A Ranong police officer said that it remained uncertain whether the children could give evidence in court. The case is expected to proceed sometime in June.

Thai human rights advocates have said that a case of human trafficking will not be pursued against the six defendants because the scale of the corruption on both sides of the border would be revealed.

The 120 people on the truck were legal aliens in Ranong and only became illegal when they left the city limits in an attempt to find better lives on Phuket.

Many Burmese who bribe their way to Phuket eventually find good jobs in tourism. Thousands of others are employed legally and illegally in the construction industry, on plantations and as house maids.

An effort is being made by local island officials to enlarge the number of legal Burmese work permits from 35,000 to 55,000 to satisfy the needs of the island's growing construction industry.

Latest Reports:

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Thursday July 18, 2024
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