PHUKET: One of the four victims admitted to Phang Nga Hospital ICU from a Phuket-Satun bus fire died from smoke inhalation on Thursday.

Sunisa Chookaew, 25, was the second person to die from injuries sustained in the fire. Daeng Thaharat, 76, was pronounced dead at the scene. Three others remain in comas at the hospital.

On Wednesday, a total of 21 passengers were on the bus, which was parked on the hard-shoulder of Petchkasem Road in Phang Nga province while the 54-year-old driver, Prathueng Sakkaew, used a borrowed welding torch to fix his seat.

“While he was welding, a spark set his seat on fire and flames quickly spread to the rear of the bus,” said Lt Sorasak Jandee of the Takua Thung Police. “Mr Prathueng panicked and fled through the driver’s door, leaving his passengers trapped.”

Nearby locals responded to Mr Prathueng’s calls for help, and broke the windows of the bus, allowing the passengers to escape the smoke filled vehicle.

Mr Prathueng was charged with causing death and injuries, confirmed Lt Sorasak.

“We are now in the process of questioning passengers who were on the bus. However, it is quite hard, as they are not all in Phang Nga,” said Lt Sorasak.

“We will call in the families of the deceased victims, the bus driver and the bus company together next week so that they can start negotiations [with regard to compensation].”

— Kongleaphy Keam