54 Myanmar labourers suffocate in Thai container truck

April 10th, 2008 - 11:29 am ICT by admin  

Bangkok, April 10 (DPA) Thai police Thursday were looking for the owner of a container truck in which 54 illegal Myanmar labourers suffocated to death while being transported to the resort island of Phuket, the police said. The 10-wheel container truck, usually used for transporting frozen fish to Phuket, was found at 10 p.m. Wednesday, abandoned on the roadside near Suksamlan village, about 450 km south of Bangkok, with 120 Myanmar nationals inside, 54 of whom were dead.

“They said they came from Victoria Point Island in Myanmar and were heading from Ranong to Phuket in the container when it ran out of oxygen,” said Suksamlan Police Colonel Kraithong Janthongbai.

The Burmese banged on the container’s walls until the driver finally pulled over, said Kraithong in a telephone interview with DPA.

The driver fled after opening the container doors and finding that many of the Burmese had already suffocated. Nearby villagers alerted the police.

The dead included 37 women and 17 men. Another 21 were hospitalised and the remaining 46 were detained by police for entering Thailand illegally.

Thailand, which borders Myanmar, has a huge population of illegal Burmese labourers who are commonly employed on fishing trawlers, plantations and construction sites.

Although Thai authorities provide work papers for some of the Myanmar labourers, the vast majority work in the country illegally, subject to arrest and vulnerable to abuse by their employers.

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