6 injured when car slams into Bangkok Erawan shrine


BANGKOK, Thailand – A car struck the fence and stopped inside the Erawan Shrine compound on Friday night in Bangkok. The Toyota sedan apparently lost control, hit the fence, and came to a stop inside the shrine compound at the Ratchaprasong intersection in central Bangkok. The shrine itself was not damaged, and worshippers were soon back.

A car, caught clearly on CCTV, slammed into the fence of the Erawan Shrine on Friday night, injuring at least six people in the compound of the popular attraction. Police now say the driver suffered a stroke, causing the accident. Police have confirmed it was an accident, not a terrorist act.

“The driver had an acute stroke while on the wheel and lost control of herself,” said Acting Bangkok Police Chief Pol. Lt. Gen. Sanit Mahataworn today.

“Her daughter, who was with her in the car, told us her mother suddenly had a seizure and lost control of the car before it hit the shrine,” he said.

Video posted clearly shows the force of the crash, pushing some victims from the roadside onto the shrine itself.

“The closed-circuit camera footage showed the car was in reverse gear after the hit. But that’s because the daughter was pulling the gear lever, or the impact could have been much greater,” the police general explained.

“This was not a terrorist or deliberate act to hurt anyone. It’s an accident. Tourism Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul visited the victims, and there’s nothing to worry about. The Tourism Ministry has a fund to take care of visitors. The most serious cases are broken legs and head wounds,” he added.

Asked whether authorities would reinforce the shrine’s fences, Pol. Lt. Gen. Sanit said talks might be held to discuss the possibility, especially if it helps bolster confidence among people and tourists.

Those injured were identified as coming from Indonesia, Singapore, and China, in addition to Thai national Mrs. Kanuengnit Techorai, 55, who was the driver of the car.

A 21-year-old tourist from Vietnam, who gave her name as Kristy said: “We were praying, and then suddenly we heard a big noise, and we saw a car coming inside. We ran like crazy. It was very scary. At first thought it was a car bomb, but everyone was very calm around us.”

The Erawan Shrine was the site of a bombing in August last year that killed 20 people and shocked the country.