PHUKET: Four Phuket tourists have have been killed in a Saturday evening collision on the main road north of Phuket - a pileup that brought the total toll in that area to 14 dead in three horror smashes in just over a month.
Five more tourists have been taken to hospital, some to Phuket, and three are in a critical condition.
The driver of the tourist minivan is believed to have fled on foot amid the carnage.
Killed were three women and a man. They were identified as two Russians, a Turk and a Ukraine citizen, according to police.
The driver of the other vehicle involved in the collision, Chamnan Dabkeaw, 25, waited at the scene as paramedics and police arrived.
He was carrying crates of fish off Phuket. The tourists were returning to Phuket after a day trip.
The crash occurred about 6.20pm near Paita, a short drive off Phuket.
The latest tourist tragedy is likely to bring to a head concerns about safety on the popular holiday coast roads north of Phuket, especially between Phuket airport and destinations in Khao Lak, a short drive north.
Five people - including four young Swedish tourists - died in a horrific crash on February 1 on the road north of Phuket.
They were heading off from Phuket to continue their dive holiday and were killed instantly, along with the Thai driver of their rented car, when a fish truck lost control, became airborne, and crushed them.
Another five people travelling on a local bus that was clipped by an overtaking ''local taxi'' BMW were killed on February 18 as the bus returned from a funeral on Phuket.
The bus ran off the road into trees, injuring 24 passengers, some seriously.
The third mass fatality on the same stretch of roads will elevate concern about safety standards among minibus drivers and unregistered taxi drivers to the highest level.
The road north of Phuket has sections where the highway is divided and appears safe and other sections where the road narrows and twists.
The crashes - all in Phang Nga province, north of Phuket - appear to have mostly happened on sections where high speed, not road design, is the problem.
Virtually no controls exist in the Phuket region to educated the drivers of minibuses and local taxis about safety standards.
Authorities admit there are no controls governing taxis and minibuses on Phuket. No formal registration and no training conditions are imposed.
Enforcement of speed limits is nonexistent.
In Mission Hospital on Phuket tonight were Lazina Svetlanarat, 28, .Labeznaya Galina, 56, Serkan Tinc, 33, Medvedeva Nadejda, 59, and Sepdakor Alexandaras, 54.