PHUKET: Three Chinese tourists were killed and 15 others injured, three seriously, when the tour bus they were riding in tumbled off the road and rolled down Kata Hill on the way to Chalong this afternoon (story here).

Initially, 11 of the injured tourists were taken to Vachira Phuket Hospital after the accident, and four were taken to Patong Hospital

The three seriously injured passengers were later transferred to Bangkok Hospital Phuket, where they remain, said Lt Chollada Chokdeesrijan of the Chalong Police.

“The other 12 tourists have since been discharged from hospital,” she told the Phuket Gazette. “The bodies of the three dead tourists – Huijie Hu, 30; Meiling Li, 28; and Bo Zhou, 30 – were taken to Vachira Phuket Hospital.”

The driver, Kajornwit Srisongkram, 35, and the tour guide were taken to Chalong Police Station.

“Police have charged Mr Kajornwit with reckless driving causing death and injury,” confirmed Lt Chollada.

Mr Kajornwit, however, blamed the accident on the age of the bus and brake failure.

He had picked up the tourists from a hotel in Karon, and was en route to Kra Som Pier in Phang Nga so his passengers could travel to Phang Nga Bay when the accident occurred.

“On the way down the hill from Kata, I applied the brakes, but they didn’t work,” Mr Kajornwit explained.

“This bus is very old, almost 20 years. I couldn’t control it. We crossed into the oncoming lanes before falling off the hill on the other side of the road.

“I have been a driver for 10 years, and have never had an accident like this. I am very sad about what happened.”

Police are continuing their investigation into the accident, Lt Chollada confirmed.

“We have contacted the bus owner, as well as the tour company. We will continue questioning Mr Kajornwit and examine the condition of the bus,” she said.

— Kritsada Mueanhawong