Train collides with bus in Thailand, killing at least 18

Tour bus carrying carrying 65 passengers was hit while crossing railway

At least 18 people were killed when a train collided with a bus in central Thailand on Sunday. Dozens of people were taken to hospital with several in critical condition, health officials said.

The tour bus with 65 passengers on board was hit by the train as it crossed a railway track during rain in Chachoengsao, 80 kilometres east of Bangkok.

Maitree Tritilanon, the governor of Chachoengsao province, said the crossing had an alarm but no barrier to block traffic when trains were approaching.

District official Prathueng Yookassem said rain might have played a role in the crash. “It was raining, perhaps, the driver did not see the train,” he told Thailand’s PBS TV.

Footage shared by a government department showed the bus edging from the road onto train tracks before a blue cargo train slammed into its side.

Early photos taken by rescue workers showed gnarled metal and debris, with bodies lying by the tracks and people's belongings scattered around the scene.

Rescue workers lifted the injured on stretchers into nearby parked ambulances, and a crane arrived early in the afternoon to lift the vehicle off the tracks.

Mr Maitree said the bus passengers were travelling from neighbouring Samut Prakan province to a temple in Chachoengsao to offer yellow robes to monks – a traditional ceremony held within a month of the end of Buddhist Lent.

He said the province would install speed bumps and barriers as well as cut down trees near the crossing to improve visibility.

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha gave his condolences and instructed authorities to investigate the cause of the crash, a government spokesman said.

Such deadly accidents are common in Thailand, which regularly tops lists of the world's most lethal roads, with speeding, drunk driving and weak law enforcement all contributing factors.

Thailand has the second-highest traffic fatality rate in the world, according to a 2018 World Health Organisation report.

Although a majority of the victims are motorcyclists, bus crashes involving groups of tourists and migrant labourers often grab headlines.