The tense political situation was water off a duck’s back yesterday as Thais and tourists celebrated the Songkran festival and traditional New Year’s Day.
ourists and locals at Khao San Road, which was a scene of bloody clashes between government forces and the red shirt protesters on Saturday, splashed water at each other and duelled with water pistols throughout the day.
Red shirt protesters also celebrated the Songkran water festival at their rally sites at Phan Fa Bridge and Ratchaprasong intersection.
Elsewhere in the capital, youngsters gathered on the roadside and splashed water on motorists and pedestrians.
Songkran revellers in the provinces, including in the restive South, also took part in the religious ceremonies and water-splashing frolics.
However, people in many drought-hit districts in Ubon Ratchathani could not fully enjoy the water festival because they have to save water for consumption.
The Road Safety Centre reported a total of 45 deaths, 607 injured and 557 accidents on Monday _ the first day of ”seven dangerous days” between April12 and 18. The figures are considered a setback for the agency’s effort to cut the number of road accidents and deaths during Songkran _ the figures are higher than those reported on the first day of the holiday last year.
Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation director-general Anucha Mokkhavesa said the increasing number of accidents and casualties encouraged the authority to work harder to achieve the goal to cut the death toll by 5% from last year.
More accidents were expected, especially in Bangkok, as the streets have emptied because many people have left the city to visit their families, Mr Anucha said.
”This allows motorists to drive at high speeds which can easily lead to serious accidents,” he said.
”To curb the number of road accident casualties and injuries, we have no plan to reduce a number of staff although the political unrest is going on,” he said.
He said the road safety campaign had started too late for this year.
The Road Safety Centre reported that drink-driving topped the causes of road accidents with 40% of the 557 accidents reported on Monday, followed by speeding (24.8%) and cutting across lanes (15%).
More than 80% of the accidents involved motorcycles, followed by pickup trucks and sedans.
In Nakhon Ratchasima, a bus carrying 50 passengers turned over as the driver tried to avoid a truck, causing two deaths and injuring 30 passengers.